Blazer Banter

Road Takes: LeBron, Bosh End Blazers Comeback Hopes

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

The Blazers stormed back after being down by 15 in the fourth quarter to tie the game with 30 seconds left. 

However, a lay-up by LeBron James and a block by Chris Bosh on Damian Lillard’s game-tying lay-up attempt ended what could have been a momentum-building win into the rest of the road trip.

Two top-five offensives both combined to score in the low-90s in a tough, grind-it-out affair that was unexpected.

The Heat, on pace to be the worst offensive rebounding team in history (by design as they value getting back on defense more than offensive rebounds), were outworking the Blazers on the offensive glass. They eventually finished with a 13-10 advantage in offensive rebounds and Portland struggled taking care of the ball since the early part of the game.

Portland turned the ball over 15 times which led to 21 Miami points.

Damian Lillard got going in the first quarter but he didn’t make a field goal after the opening period. He struggled with his shot, going 3/15 from the field but attacked the basket relentlessly and earned himself 14 free-throws.

Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews both took the task of guarding LeBron James at times with Batum pulling double-duty by also checking Chris Bosh later on in the game. Still, LeBron finished with a LeBron game, posting 32 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists.

While Portland struggled to get good three-pointers to go down, they were still able to stay in the game by basically shutting off Miami’s three-point shot. The Blazers went 11/39 from the three-point line, which calculates out to 28 percent for a team that shoots 37.5 percent as a team on average. The Heat shot just 15 three-pointers and the Blazers forced their perimeter shooters into 23 midrange jumpers.

However, the Heat were still able to get to the rim as teams have been able to do on the Blazers all year en route to 36 shots at the rim.

Overall it was a very good defensive game from the Blazers all around, but turnovers and their below-average three-point shooting made things tough.

Alas, they were still right there because they simply played good defense.

They turned up the defense even more at the 3:18 mark when Terry Stotts called for a 2-3 match-up zone defense. The result for the Miami offense was four points and four turnovers in the final 3:18 which came on a midrange jumper from Chalmers and the eventual game-winner by LeBron.

Unfortunately for the Blazers, Miami’s defense was played with renewed urgency after dropping a game to the Pelicans the other night. Although they rank just 13th in defensive efficiency this season, this is a team where the “flip the switch” principle applies. When they flip it, they have another gear that most teams do not.

The Blazers–Mo Williams, Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum–each had their turns making big shots down the stretch to close the gap and eventually tie it. Alas, their final effort came up short after Stotts elected not to call time out and let the Blazers go at a Miami defense that was scrambling to get set.

It was a great finish, but unfortunately for the Blazers they are on the short-end of a great finish against a playoff team once again.

However, you can put the panic button away for now. Should they lose to Orlando tomorrow, then we can talk.

Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen is the Trail Blazers beat reporter for The Columbian. He's a graduate of the Allen School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon in addition earning a degree in Spanish. He started writing about NBA Basketball for SwishScout.com before being the Sports Reporter Intern for TrailBlazers.com. He also fist-bumped with Kanye West once. Follow @BlazerBanter on twitter for more Blazers and NBA news.

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