mikebarrett

Jan 10

Cardiac Kids Do It Again

By mikebarrett Posted in: Heat

Magic happens when you believe.

For about the sixth time this season we’ve called a victory a “signature win.”  This latest one came Thursday night, in front of a national TV audience, as the Blazers beat the world champs at the Rose Garden 92-90.  Portland ended the game on a 24-10 run, and used two massive three pointers by Wesley Matthews in the final minute to secure the comeback win.

This team is now 11-2 in games decided by six points or fewer.  As I mentioned on the radio earlier in the day, you don't want to get Portland into a close game right now.

I hesitate to ever use the word “ugly” when you’re talking about a win over the Miami Heat.  But, the fact that the Trail Blazers were able to beat the defending champs, on a night when they struggled in so many different categories, gives you some idea of how far this team has come.  It wasn’t that long ago that we were saying a high shooting percentage was vital to Portland’s chances to win any game.  Well, they shot 37% against the Heat, and lived to tell about it.

With under eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter, the Trail Blazers trailed Miami 80-68.  This is about the time the Heat usually slam the door shut.  It didn’t happen that way on this night.

Again, this was a night the Blazers didn’t shoot well, didn’t really ever get into a rhythm, missed some clutch free throws, and were forced to play at Miami’s tempo.  But, they found a way.  That’s been the most impressive thing about this run.  The Blazers are now 12-3 in their last 15 games.  That’s tied for the second-best record in the NBA over that stretch.  They’re now five games over the .500 mark.

If the 12-point deficit with eight minutes to go wasn’t disheartening enough, consider that Miami had come into the fourth quarter with a lead 18 times this season before Thursday night.  They had won 17 of those 18. 

Matthews had been just 1 of 6 from behind the three-point line before the final minute of this contest.  But, with 56.9 seconds left he tied the game at 88 with his first bomb.  Then, with Portland down 90-88 with 27 seconds left, Matthews drilled another to give the Blazers their first lead of the fourth quarter.  Miami’s Mario Chalmers went for the win at the buzzer, but his three was off the mark and the Blazers danced off the floor as over 20,000 Blazer fans went nuts.

Matthews ended the game with 18 points, and certainly came through when it mattered most, but Nic Batum strapped on a saddle and carried his team through most of the night.  He ended with 28 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists.  He was brilliant, yet again.  LaMarcus Aldridge was also solid, scoring 20 points and pulling down 15 rebounds.  JJ Hickson grabbed 10 boards, and Damian Lillard had just 10 points, but dished out 8 assists.

This win was huge on many levels, but was so important given what’s ahead in the next few games for the Blazers.  They take on the Warriors in Oakland on Friday, host Oklahoma City on Sunday, and then play at Denver on Tuesday.  If you’re already fearing the worst looking at those games, remember who we’re dealing with here.

You would think we all would have learned by now.

Was this the most impressive victory of the season so far for this team?  If not, what win ranks ahead of it?  And, what has this past 15 games done to your expectations of this team? 

Talk to you from Oakland on Friday night.

(photo credit- Bruce Ely- The Oregonian.  He's the best in biz, and they're lucky to have him).


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38 Comments

  1. If this keeps up, Hollywood is going to have to make "Miracle 2" after the season is over.

    by Shem on 1/11/2013 12:45 AM
  2. Great win! Never say die for the Blazers!!

    GO BLAZERS!!

    by mgb on 1/11/2013 1:02 AM
  3. Greetings Mr.Barrett! This ranks as the most impressive win. Mostly because it was a T.N.T broadcast against the *shorten'd season* champs(if it is not 82, it does not count) That 4th quarter comeback says all you need to know about this team at this time. Looking ahead to Friday, I sense a Lillard homecoming explosive night. We dont play well in Oakland, but I think this time will be different. This team is different right now, they are playing on another level.

    by L.T.G on 1/11/2013 1:02 AM
  4. Great win but we rode the starters hard long min. Not much out of the bench.

    How much will the team have left and can the bench come op big?

    by Ancientone on 1/11/2013 1:15 AM
  5. hey mike: Thanks for the Blog and update.

    What a game, I was surprised that LMA got that many points, It seemed like he missed many shots he usually make. I wonder if that was due to his sprained wrist.
    Wesley said he was pretty sick most of the game, but held it together
    Lillard was off most of the night, but played better defense then normal.
    JJ was getting beat to death under the rim, so I was also surprised he did as well as he did.
    I don't think it was the most impressive game, because Miami controlled us for three quarters, I feel the Orlando, the other Florida team was the most impressive win as the player were dead tired.

    by Hg on 1/11/2013 1:47 AM
  6. You guys may not believe this, but I felt it coming. Yesterday I got a flash that we were gonna Beat the Heat. During the game I had a few small doubts but when they couldn't put us away even though most of the breaks were going their way, my confidence came back. The birdie on my shoulder tweeted "Blazers Win!" and they did.

    Clearly the starting five has come together faster than anyone thought they would. Now the question is, should the team continue with its longer range plan, or try to trade for a couple of veterans for the bench and shoot for as high a playoff spot as we can reach?
    --
    don

    by dgpdx on 1/11/2013 3:02 AM
  7. I love that pic! There was a sweet one of LA and Matthew's reaction after Chalmers missed the potential game winning 3 for Miami, (both mouths wide open yelling) and it was promply replace minutes later for a sad face picture of LeBron. Oh well. I can alway count on MB for the real story.

    Hollinger's model has a hole in it. It doesn't account for heart.

    by Blazer Fanatic on 1/11/2013 4:04 AM
  8. It's gonna be really tough tomorrow @ GS. I can't wait!

    by Blazer Fanatic on 1/11/2013 4:05 AM
  9. This is probably the most impressive win just because they did not lose confidence. And it is certainly easy to not feel the confidence when you are facing the defending league champs, the big three, on national television, shooting poorly, and pretty much everyone except you Blazer Believers are expecting and saying you are going to lose.

    The difference really does seem to be confidence though. Wesley has been saying it all along. You have got to be confident enough to go for it and you will be rewarded. This year the guys are confident. Nico seems way more assured in everyone's confidence in him. There is a coach that seems confident in his guys and what he is doing with them. The fans are confident that if they keep supporting and cheering the team will keep trying.

    Staying confident is keeping us in games when everyone is counting us out. There is definitely a reason the team is doing so well in games decided by six or less. There is a reason that the team is undefeated in overtime games.

    We may have some tough games ahead, but lately the guys have been thriving on tough. I can't wait. :)

    by Niki C on 1/11/2013 5:28 AM
  10. That play call towards the end of the game which gave Wesley a wide open three in the corner was the difference. Credit coach Stotts for an amazing late play call. Wesley is a streaky yet freaky shooter, and because he felt the net on that play he had the confidence for that step-back on Ray (he even admitted to the heat check post game).

    Honestly, the scary (in a good way) part about this win is the Blazers didn't play well for long stretches. There were a few mental lapses (Wade creating the seal on Nic late in the first half for an easy lay-up, Hickson's lazy in-bounds intercepted by Wade...). Shooting 37% is just not going to be good enough most nights. But credit Wesley and Nic for some outstanding defense on James and Wade for most of the night. They looked out of sync nearly the whole game on offense. If we had an answer for Bosh this game isn't even close.

    Pound for pound this starting 5 is a good as any in the league. If they hit their average they score 83 points per game. 83 points. Find me a better starting 5.

    by MJB on 1/11/2013 6:47 AM
  11. good morning MB, everyone. the real ugly thing about the game was our shooting. you mentioned the 37 percent which in most cases would define a double-digit loss -- at least. i had really thought we would tear these guys up on the boards, but we ended in just a tie in that stat, with slight advantage on the offensive end. i don't want to get too into the officiating, but despite what the numbers showed at the end, there were quite a few blown calls which went the superstars' way.

    got to hand it to Wesley, did as good a job defending James as possible, and still had enough left to hit those threes at the end. LaMarcus was battling in there pretty hard all night and really rebounded well for us. when Wesley went out, i thought Stotts was nuts to put Sasha on him, but Sasha didn't fare too badly.

    but, when it comes down to it, we'd have been no where last night without Nicolas. he was all over the court on both ends. you can tell he is playing with passion. i particularly loved hen in the 4th quarter he was so frustrated with a foul call that he had to run himself to the side of the court and literally force himself to calm down. that's the kind of passion he's needed and makes him even more fun to watch than before.

    i'm honestly not sure if i would call last night's win the most impressive. i might have felt that way last night but, after some perspective, i still might give that to the win against the Knicks in new york. i would like to think we can look back on this win by saying it was a catalyst in more impressive wins. as fluky as this game was, i would like us to be able to say this win cemented the fact we can beat, indeed, anyone.

    ~ KMM

    ps: yet another glaring difference between our starters and our bench is that none five bench players who played last night are on twitter, while all five starters are!

    by Kassandra on 1/11/2013 7:23 AM
  12. Hey Mike - I actually got to watch the game - I'm ATL right now - so it was already getting late and I had to be rested for my day at the clinic, and as we know, it wasn't too pretty at the half, so sadly, I went to sleep. Only to wake up to the news of this HUGE, but yes, ugly win. Good to see the guys kept fighting and believing. It's a good quality to have, as there will be tough challenges ahead. All I had wanted was a good, respectable fight from their end and they weren't doing that in the first half. Sloppy offense, almost no D. Almost painful to watch. Give credit to Miami for doing a good job on both ends of the floor in the 1st half of course.

    Anyways, certainly a huge confidence boost in addition to what we've been doing the last few games. Hope we can continue things for tonight's game vs. GS. I know some may say it won't be a disappointment if we lose tonight, but I always like to win that game after a huge win, even though it's the next day in this case.

    Love this team!!

    by Anees on 1/11/2013 7:32 AM
  13. Oh my goddess !! It was nothing. Nothing but the defending champs. Nothing but the best player on the planet. Nothing but the heat bringing their best.
    T-E-A-M I'm afraid the secret is out now.

    by the golden ladder on 1/11/2013 7:36 AM
  14. MB,

    I have to say the New York win was the most impressive. On the road at Madison Square Garden and they have Amare back? Not even close! We actually were at home for this one and had the crowd backing us up.

    Anyway, I was watching this game at a sports bar. My bill was ready to go around 9 when we were down 13 at the half. I already had a bunch of other important things to get done so I figured I'd give the money and then walk home and admit we would lose. But, THEY NEVER CAME! So I ended up watching the whole game there instead, and let me tell you, I was SPEECHLESS when the final buzzer sounded. Absolutely speechless. This is about as clutch as it gets. To think we didn't have any lead for most of the game!

    MJB, I agree! The play Stotts drew up out of the timeout with about a minute left was GENIOUS. If this were football, the commentators would call it "playbook perfection." That's exactly what it was. Matthews hits the three and ties the game at 88. HUGE shot, not to mention the one after that finally gave us the lead!

    We won because of our heart. Not our disastrous shooting or disappointing effort on the boards, but our courage and perserverance. Important qualities for a PLAYOFF TEAM to have!!! Not to mention the defense picked up in most of the fourth quarter, which spurned our comeback.

    Anyway, glad we briefly dethroned King James even though I think the New York and Memphis wins were better. I hope the national sports media starts to take notice. We can play with and beat anybody on any given night if the will to win is present.

    One final note: I will be broadcasting Linfield men's basketball tonight at 8 on the radio if anyone else on this blog is interested in hearing me call a game. Just click on this link and you'll hear the live audio stream.

    http://www.linfield.edu/kslcfm/listen-online.html

    Take care and hope we can somehow beat Golden State on a back-to-back, that will definitely be another tough win to get.

    -Max Milander '14

    by linfieldrunner on 1/11/2013 10:08 AM
  15. Watching the game through 3.5 Q, i thought if we lost by fewer than 10, it would be a victory. The Heat players were so fast and aggressive. They were all over us. But there is no measure for desire. The Heat thought it would be easy but we wanted this more. Call it lucky, I call it our due. Loved how it ended. Confidence on the part of the coach and players is at an all time high. This is not a selfish team. And there is no one go-to guy. Love it that way, keeping the opposition guessing. Way to go, men! you deserve this win.

    On another note, I watched the post game talk of Charles, Shaq and company on TNT. I was disappointed that it took about 30 minutes for them to even mention this upset at all. All they could talk about was NY and LA. Talked about team movement...all kinds of stuff before they got around to this game. Too bad

    by allie-oop on 1/11/2013 10:14 AM
  16. Nice win !! I like the way they 're playing right now they never give up. Matthews 2 three points at the end of the game just make me think how solid this team is.Anyone in the starting five can take the game on his shoulders
    in the last minutes.Nic was agressive to the rim ,i like the fact that he shot 11
    free throw .Still think the win at New York was the best this year but this one is just behind.
    GO BLAZERS !!!!

    by NicoBatata on 1/11/2013 10:28 AM
  17. by NicoBatata on 1/11/2013 10:30 AM
  18. Great win last night! Nic, Wes and LA just took this one over at the wire! Another reason one can never, ever shut off a Blazer game in the 4th qtr....!! Gotta give a shout out to Steve Kerr for being the one announcer who complimented a Blazer player last night. Thought it was interesting that LaMarcus line was our record, 20-15.

    by riverman on 1/11/2013 10:36 AM
  19. The team came out playing well, moving the ball and getting good looks at the basket, but they kept missing or getting blocked inside, and then the Heat pressure started producing turnovers and the game started to slide toward Miami. (It was another night where JJ missed his double-double because he missed a lot of shots at the rim. And for a while there Bosh just took him to school.) It was obvious to me that James wasn't in top shape; he passed off several times when he would have been exploding to the basket if his knee was at full strength. That helped our defense. I was afraid coach Stotts had handed the game to the heat when he gave long minutes to Jared Jeffries, who contributed a missed shot and a turnover, and cut short the time for Freeland and Babbitt. I'm guessing he wanted "veteran decision-making" against Miami's pressure, but his substitution choices knocked our bench scoring back again, and dumped minutes on the starters, who will feel it tonight. But it was a delight to watch Nic lead the comeback, erasing the 13-point lead by steady effort, cutting it by 8 by the third quarter, and then outscoring them by 7 in the fourth. We got a little lucky down the stretch, but you play hard and don't give up and you deserve all the luck you get.

    by David Maclaine on 1/11/2013 11:55 AM
  20. The most valuable Miami's players is 1) David Stern 2) Joey Crawford 3) Bennett Salvatore 4) Dick Bavetta 5) Ron Garretson

    by Hg on 1/11/2013 12:13 PM
  21. Miami wanted that game badly. They brought their best.
    What happened was the Heat came out and punched the Blazers squarely in the nose. The Blazers with their eyes watering stayed in the fight. They stayed on their feet, still woozy, did not get knocked down. Kept fighting and kept fighting. This went on for 44 minutes. Miami finally decided it was too hard. They couldn't knock us out. The Blazers rose up and landed a mighty blow. They won that game with mental toughness. I am beside myself with pride for our guys.
    Matthews and company held James under 20 pts. First time all season. 33 games.

    by Divotking on 1/11/2013 1:25 PM
  22. 37% was due to their D. They were very active. All over DLill. Covering 3 pt. line. Double teaming. It was tough sledding.
    To me the best game of the year.
    How do the Blazers top this one Mike ? I know they will.

    by Divotking on 1/11/2013 3:34 PM
  23. @divotking, Steve Kerr said that the Heat was closing out on three point shooters so fast and hard that Nic started pump faking getting his defensive play to commit to blocking his shot then he had a free line to the basket. The pass Batum made to Wesley, was really meant for Nic to score, but Wesley's man came in to help because Nic lost his man altogether that gave Matthews a wide open shot.

    by Hg on 1/11/2013 3:40 PM
  24. @Hg:
    You are absolutely right. Spoelstra said to a Miami reporter, it was a defensive breakdown.
    Hey Hg. Do you ever get to Portland ? We need to go to a game this year. All of Mike's maniacs. Ancientone, Don, Maclaine, Kassandra, Shem, Riverman, allie-oop. Who did I leave out ?
    What'ya say Mike.

    by Divotking on 1/11/2013 4:13 PM
  25. I've been thinking about Charles Barkley's comments at half-time, when he contradicted Steve Kerr's praise and went out of his way to pick every power forward he could think of as being better than LA. It's not hard to understand why he did that. Charles was a muscle guy and a great rebounder, and so the first thing on his mind rating power forwards is the "power" part of the description. He admitted that LaMarcus was the best scoring power forward and if you look at the record that's obviously true. He's the #8 scorer in the league with nothing but guards and small forwards ahead of him. David Lee lurks just below, with a better shooting percentage, but we know that Lee's role on his team doesn't require him to make the tough baskets LA provides, and besides, a half-season with those numbers doesn't yet qualify ranking him above a guy who has done it year in and year out. So, LaMarcus is the best scoring big man in the game, but he's only 22nd in the league in rebounding. About a third of the guys ahead of him are centers, and don't count in this comparison. So, why do these other guys out-rebound LA? Does it perhaps have something to do with the fact that he tends to lead the team in shots taken and takes more than half those shots from outside? And of course, there are only so many rebounds available, so if you've got a rebounding team-mate closer to the basket, that will reduce your opportunities. And, gee, LA plays with the league's number five rebounder, JJ Hickson. If you look at team-mate combinations, only Cleveland and Chicago have a pair of players who total more boards than LA and JJ. The fact that LaMarcus stretches the defense and draws a big man away from the basket obviously helps explain why the undersized JJ gets so many boards. How many more rebounds do you really think are there for the taking above and beyond the 19 and a half per game that our big men pull down?
    So LA is being marked down by guys like Charles because he has better skills than any other big man currently playing (Gasol and Love are both hurt, and didn't figure in Kerr's appraisal of LA as the best big man playing right now) and can help his team by drawing defenders and rebounders away from the basket. His rebounding numbers simply reflect his role on the team. And of course the final irony in Charles picking this night to put down LaMarcus is that LA didn't shoot especially well--we'd have been close sooner if he had--but pulled down 15 boards to go with his hard-earned 20 points. Anyone who saw him pulling down those tough defensive rebounds in traffic last night should have erased any image they had of LA as "soft" inside.
    Charles also went out of his way to jump on the Blake Griffin bandwagon, claiming he's better than LaMarcus. That's obvous nonsense. Sure Griffin's a more impressive athlete. But LA is a better shooter, in the field and on the line, has better offensive moves, and since he is tied with Griffin at 8.6 rebounds per game you can't begin to pretend that the guy with all the endorsement deals is actually more valuable to his team.
    I suppose it's a waste of time to think about the things Charles Barkley says, because he obviously doesn't bother to think before he opens his mouth. But this one was so off base I couldn't help looking to see whether he was actually onto something or just popping off. Turns out it's the latter.

    by David Maclaine on 1/11/2013 4:16 PM
  26. Divotking: you know, I was just thinking it would be nice if there was some way to get a special inside deal some night for a Barrett's Bloggers Box. I'm too strapped right now to have much realistic hope of affording a ticket, but it sure would be fun to get the whole gang together some time.

    by David Maclaine on 1/11/2013 4:19 PM
  27. @David: i''m not sure why you're down on Jeffries' performance and his minutes. while i would agree the missed fg nor to were not helpful, he grabbed a couple rebounds and played some pretty good defense in there. Jared isn't in the game to score 25 points and grab 15 boards. more often than not, you're not going to find Jared's contributions in the boxscore. he's our dirty work guy. as for taking minutes from Joel and Luke, i don't see this as an issue during this stretch, especially with this tough back to back last night and tonight. i think we're going to need all the guys over these next few games. Joel and Luke -- and Jared -- should see a decent number of minutes.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 1/11/2013 5:44 PM
  28. @David Maclaine;

    Steve Kerr said in the third quarter that Charles spent more time getting food then he actually did watching games, and LaMarcus free throw shooting itself made him better then Griffin.

    by Hg on 1/11/2013 6:02 PM
  29. @divotking: I don't get to Portland much, but for a chance to meet all the Mike Blog faithful would sure be an incentive.

    I once had a chance at a fan fest to walk over and shake Mike's hand, but he was busy as usual and I chickened out. That was before I became a Blog fanatic. Now that I know he wouldn't be offended by it, if I ever have the chance again, I would Shake his and that other Mike's arms off.

    by Hg on 1/11/2013 6:07 PM
  30. This was one of the biggest and most significant wins of the season. Granted they were without Battier, but we were without Leonard. Lost my voice when Wesley hit the first three from a Batum pass. Lost my mind when he hit the step back though. Rip City !!! Im Lovin It'

    by commontongue on 1/11/2013 6:27 PM
  31. Thank you Kass. I didn't understand Maclaines criticism of Stotts substitution pattern. Every time he made a move to the bench it made perfect sense. He found a little lightning in a bottle with Price. He squeezed a little extra time out of Ronnie. I thought Stotts did a masterful job.
    He'll go deeper into the bench tonight. Claver and Will should get some run.
    Hg: It would be a grand time.

    by Divotking on 1/11/2013 6:38 PM
  32. You guys need to see this video about the win over the Heat. It's really well done:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROXhoNKt0OI

    by Shem on 1/12/2013 12:46 AM
  33. @Shem:
    Very cool. Fun to relive the vibe that evening.

    by the golden ladder on 1/12/2013 1:07 PM
  34. wow nice Shem really well done

    by NicoBatata on 1/12/2013 2:07 PM
  35. by NicoBatata on 1/12/2013 2:07 PM
  36. @divotking: I'd be for it. I just need a little warning. I'm in Walla Walla this weekend for my dad's 92nd birthday.

    Unfortunately my fear of the team being flat at the Warriors happened.

    by Ancientone on 1/12/2013 8:43 PM
  37. Since there was no blog about Lillard's 37 points in his homecoming in Oakland, here's another video from pinwheelempire showing Lillard's 37 points:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2RuGt1-SJY

    by Shem on 1/13/2013 12:18 AM
  38. @Divotking: Going to a game together is a cool idea! Maybe we could arrange a group and all sit together. Mike's Bloggers rule! MB: could you help us arrange this?
    --
    don

    by dgpdx on 1/17/2013 1:58 AM
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