Roland Tran's Blog


Mar 09

Deeper Blazers Drop Heat

By Roland
The Portland Trail Blazers took their talents to south beach on Tuesday and defeated the Miami Heat 105-96 at American Airlines Arena. Reigning Western Conference Player of the Month (Feb) Lamarcus Aldridge was one of six Portland players to score in double figures tallying a team-high 26 points. Newly acquired Gerald Wallace contributed 22 points, 9 reb, 1 asts, 2 stl and 1 blk  off the bench - easily his best game since joining Portland last month - and the Trailblazers  shot 50 percent from the field, going 7 of 17 on 3-pointers. Andre Miller and Brandon Roy each scored 14 pts with Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews adding 10 and 11pts respectively for  Portland, who have won seven straight on the road and four straight overall. The Blazers  withstood a combined 69 pts from Dwyane Wade (38 pts) and Lebron James (31 pts) sending the Heat to its fifth consecutive loss. 

The game itself was a slow, systematic contest until seven minutes into the fourth quarter (roughly 84 possessions), and favored Portland's controlled, deliberate style rather than the Heat's up and down attack  (13 fast break pts for Mia compared to 7 pts for Por; 20 pts for Por off 14 Mia turnovers compared to 10 pts for Mia off 10 Por turnovers). The Blazers bench outscored the Heat 41-8. It was the second game in a row that the Heat have gotten virtually nothing from its bench. They scored 6 points in Sunday's loss to the Chicago Bulls. Andre Miller took advantage of the Heat's struggle dealing with opposing point guard and was effective -  guarded by Mario Chalmers and Mike Bibby -  at key stages late in the game to hold off the Heat's rally. 

Portland took a six-point lead into the locker room at halftime despite Miami shooting a blistering 58 percent from the field for the first half. In the third quarter Miami looked poised to take control of the game tying the score at 77, but Portland responded with a 7-0 run. The Heat would make a couple more runs but the Blazers responded each time. With 4:35 left in the fourth Lebron James made an emphatic dunk pulling the heat within 91-89. After a Portland timeout, Gerald Wallace took Lebron James to the hole and scored. After Wade's running floater to bring the Heat to 93-91, Brandon Roy nailed a deep 3-pointer to make it 96-91. Lamarcus Aldridge later hit baseline jumper to put Portland ahead 100-91. After another 3-pointer by Wade, Wesley Matthews hit a deep 3-pointer with the shot clock expiring that made the score 103-94 and put a dagger in the Heat's chances of victory. 

The loss for Miami would be it's sixth in eight games since the All-Star break and highlights the team's recent struggles when it comes to clutch plays, and late game meltdowns. The loss to the New York Knicks - a bizarre turn of events based on a newfound offensive euphoria from a team playing within its first week together. The loss to the Orlando Magic - an intrastate rival with a ferocious comeback thanks to red-hot shooting and key systemic defensive breakdowns on the other side. The loss to the San Antonio Spurs - a back-to-back road blowout against the best team in the league, record wise. The loss to the Chicago Bulls - a young, hungry, emotional team with defensive minded coach, the likely MVP of the NBA , and a missed rebound assignment. But a loss to the Portland Trail Blazers with two days of preparation - well...

This was just the case of a superb team beating the Heat. A superior team performance, a superior coaching performance, a superior PF star performance - simply, a superb victory for Portland, who have gone from that of a rebuilding project to serious contention for a successful playoff run. The Trail Blazers are deep (Gerald Wallace came off the bench for 22 points on 14 shots, 9 rebounds, an assist, a block and two steals. The Heat had Mike Miller, Joel Anthony, James Jones, Mike Bibby and Zydrunas Ilgauskas combine for 8 points on 11 shots), they are young and talented (Wallace, Matthews, Fernandez  and Batum for Portland while Miami has Chalmers) , and they close out game (Brandon Roy was nailing the kinds of key shots Dwayne Wade and Lebron James are supposed to with the Heat were throwing away opportunity after opportunity. Great teams capitalize on chances they have to destroy their opponent. The Blazers did. The Heat did not). At this point in the season, these two teams could not be headed in more opposite directions. Judging from how this game went down, it's not hard to see why.

The Heat had no answer for Aldridge most of the game. He was 11 of 20 from the field, having his way with Heat forward Chris Bosh. Before the game, James said Aldridge was the biggest snub in NBA All-Star game history, and he showed why he's one of the elite players. Aldridge finished with 26 points and had a overall plus/minus of plus +16 for the night (highest). Brandon Roy scored 14 points going 3-of-3 from 3-pointers and had a plus/minus of plus +14 (2nd highest). 

Chris Bosh has been in a slump since his 1 of 18 shooting performance against the Bulls. He's struggled with his jumpshot since the All-Star break. Against Portland, he was 3 of 11 from the field, leaving a bulk of the scoring load on Wade and James while having no answer for Aldridge. Bosh finished with just seven points and four rebounds. After the game, Bosh said he hasn't reached a comfort zone because he's playing too much on the perimeter. The Heat may have allowed Bosh to become too comfortable shooting jumpshots, but he says he'd rather play more in the low post (which goes against his career trends and what Bosh purported of himself earlier in the year as 'a big man that plays on the perimeter').

"Frankly, we don't have a lot of answers how to get over this hump. The only thing we can do is keep grinding and not - let - go - of - the - rope." Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.

"Tonight, it wasn't about Miami as opposed to the challenge was to ourselves. Miami is a very good team. We knew that they would come out with a sense of urgency. It was a challenge for us. We knew that if we want to become one of those elite teams, we have to go out and play." Blazer coach Nate Mcmillan.

"There's guys on the bench that can help us." Heat guard Dwayne Wade

"...I think they had a statement to prove but it was a bigger statement for us." Blazer forward Gerald Wallace.

The Trail Blazers' bench outscored the Heat 41-8.  Miami looked poised to take control of the game tying the score at 77 in the third quater, but Portland responded with a 7-0 run. The Heat would make a couple more runs but the Blazers responded each time. 

Before this seven-game road winning streak, Portland had won seven of its last 23 away from the Rose Garden. The Heat fell to 14-17 when scoring below 100 (29-4 when topping it) and are now 5-14 against teams with winning records. Lebron James has scored 25 or more points in eight straigt games, one shy of a franchise record. Head coach Nate McMillan agreed to a two-year contract extension earlier in the day. McMillan has led the Trail Blazers to two straight playoff appearances and has the team in contention for it's third. His record in six seasons with the team is 234-239 combined and is currently ongoing. 

The Heat's Big 3 struggled again by combining for a plus/minus of minus -9. Miami is 0-11 this season when the Big 3 have a plus/minus love than minus -3. After finishing with just 7 points on 3-of-11 shooting, Chris Bosh said he did not feel he was getting the ball enough in the post. Bosh had 3 plays in the post against the Blazers. During the Heat's 5-game losing streak, Bosh has a total of 19 post plays, including just 6 in the second half/overtime of those games. However, Bosh's average of 3.8 post plays per game during Miami's 5-game slide is not far off his average of 4.2 in his first 55 games this season.

Portland keeps blazing trails away from Oregon. The win over the Heat is the 7th straight on the road for the Trail Blazers, their longest road winning streak in almost 20 years and the third longest such streak in franchise history. Each of the two previous times Portland has gone on a longer road win streaks, they made the Western Conference Finals.

The views, opinions and remarks expressed and/or disseminated in this blog are solely those of its author and its peers, and do not necessarily represent those of Portland, the Portland Trail Blazers, the NBA and its partners. Roland Tran is neither employed by the Trail Blazers nor the NBA or any of it's affiliate. 




  1. Wow this took a long time. omg

    by Roland on 3/10/2011 12:47 AM
  2. The only problem I see is the monetary cost of the Portland bench. With Roy and Wallace coming off the bench we lack the flexibility for growth in the starting 5. Roy cannot stay on the team with such a huge contract if he is a bench player, no matter how good he is every other game. Don't get me wrong I like him but if W. Mattews is not going to be benched in favor of B. Roy, Roy must be traded for the good of the team in order to land a top 10 center who unlike M. Camby scores 15+ points and 11+ rebounds per game.

    by mbmurr1 on 3/10/2011 8:54 AM
  3. Player personnel changes would have wait until the season's end as the Blazers are playing a high quality brand of basketball. But since you insist, I will speculate along with you.

    We were already over the salary cap due to Roy's and Aldridge's contract like you stated. Marcus Camby makes 12M/yr over 2 yrs (which is too high for me) serving as an insurance policy to Greg Oden, and it came in handy. With extensions given to Batum, Fernandez and the FA acquisition of Matthews makes us severely strap. It will be interesting to see what deal Rich Cho presents to GO this offseason. I don't see us trading Roy unless his contract is restructured, and under current CBA teams over the salary cap are not afforded that privilege.

    The only deal I can fathom is Roy going to the Clippers for centerpieces Foye, Kaman and 1st rd. pick (other players from both teams will be thrown in to satisfy the economics equity) or the Bulls for Asik, Deng and 2 future 1st rd pick w/ the same criteria to match salaries. Obvious this is just speculation and banter. We'll have to see at the end of the season.

    Roy is playing quite well since his return. Recall that Roy and Camby have only been back for ~7 games and are not fully acclimated to the system. As long as the Blazers continue to win, I see Roy as a bench player with Wallace. Unless Roy returns to form (1st 5 games of the season) and Wallace plays at supreme level and/or the regression of Nic and Wesley or amounting losses (highly doubt) - the current rotations stays. An old saying, "Winning cures everything."

    by Roland on 3/11/2011 5:14 PM
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