Scorching Heat burn Blazers late
PORTLAND — Wesley Matthews got the kick-out pass from LaMarcus Aldridge, launched a shot from from behind the arc, and increased the Blazers’ four-point lead to seven with 2:13 remaining in regulation.
Big 3, right?
Uh uh. The Big 3 came later.
It came via a finger-roll layup by Dwyane Wade with just over a minute to go to cut the lead to two. It came via a 3-pointer, a layup and two free throws by LeBron James to send the game into overtime. It came via 19 and 22-foot jumpers by Chris Bosh in the extra period to put the game out of reach.
The finished product was Miami beating Portland, 107-100 — the Big 3, which have now helped the Heat win 21 of 22 and 13 straight road games, looking larger than life.
“You look at games like this and you really understand why we decided to team up and come together and really make this a special run,” said Wade, who scored 15 of his 34 points in the first quarter. “(James) is a great player, and I’m a fan of his on the court. I’m just glad I get to experience wearing the same jersey that he wears.”
If Wade seemed particularly awestruck Sunday night, it was because James recorded a season-high 44 points on 17 of 26 shooting while adding 13 rebounds and six assists. He scored 32 of his points in the second half, 11 of Miami’s final 13 points in regulation, and after drilling the game-closing 3-pointer (he had three 3’s on the day), he put his hands in the air and invited boos from the Rose Garden fans.
They obliged. Well, the ones that stuck around did, at least.
“That was just love of the game,” James said of his gesture.
Matthews wasn’t in such celebratory spirits. All night long he and his teammates seemed to summon up big shots reserved solely for opponents of Miami’s caliber.
The Blazers (20-18) saw Patty Mills score 11 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter. They saw Nicolas Batum score 22 points and elicit a standing ovation when he blocked James’ layup attempt off the backboard.
And they saw LaMarcus Aldridge abuse Bosh in the post, tallying 31 points, 14 rebounds and a career-high-tying seven assists.
So to see it all go for not left the shooting guard smile-free.
“We had it, we had it, we had it,” said Matthews, who said the emotion running through his body after knocking down that late 3 was “relief.” “You gotta bury teams. There were great players on the other end. You gotta give them credit, but we helped.”
James tied the score with a pair of free throws with 24.6 seconds left in regulation, giving the Blazers a chance to win on the final possession.
The end result was Andre Miller missing jump shots from 20 and 16 feet — the ball noticeably never touching Aldridge’s hands.
“It was a good shot, just missed it, that’s all,” Miller said.
Added Aldridge: “We had a play drawn up, they kind of guarded it well, Dre made his read. I’ll live with that any day of the week.”
Miami (30-9) snapped the Blazers’ eight-game home winning streak, allowing Memphis to creep within two and a half games of Portland for the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference, which may not be worth worrying about yet.
Either way, Blazers coach Nate McMillan’s sullen post-game face illustrated his frustration, but he couldn’t help but laud the Heat performances, particularly that of James.
“They made — LeBron and Wade made some big shots,” McMillan said. “(James) is capable and he’s done that here before…it’s like he kind of flips the switch. Wade was good the first quarter, LeBron was even better the fourth quarter.”
Bosh had 18 points for Miami (30-9), which shot 57 percent from the field. James, Wade and Bosh combined for 96 of the Heat’s 107 points — Wade connecting on 15 of his 22 field-goal attempts.
The Blazers, who got 14 rebounds from Marcus Camby but shot just 41.8 percent from the field and 20.8 percent from 3-point range, will practice Monday and host New York Tuesday.
Matt Calkins can be contacted at 360-735-4528 or email@example.com