Dwyane Wade leads Heat past Blazers with big fourth quarter 108-104

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

The Miami Heat defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 108-104 Wednesday night in Miami. Dwyane Wade led the Heat with 32 points.

The ball movement for the Portland Trail Blazers was fantastic for three quarters. They were putting on an offensive clinic and continuing to play excellent offense as they have since the All-Star break.┬áBut in the fourth quarter the ball movement didn’t look the same even though LaMarcus Aldridge was excellent.

But their defense struggled all night long against Miami’s backcourt. It started with Goran Dragic, who had 20 points and 11 assists, but it was emphatically ended by Wade who was magical down the stretch. He hit an array of tough jumpers and had some even tougher drives down the stretch.

Even if the Blazers played good defense, Wade would still hit some tough ones. The same went for Dragic much of the night. But Luol Deng had 24 points and it seemed like every 3-pointer he took was wide open. And, the Heat also had Hassan Whiteside changing shots around the basket for the Blazers. Whiteside had a double-double with six blocks and was disruptive for much of the night.

Aldridge was the biggest reason why the Blazers were dominant. He got it going early with 13 first quarter points. He finished with 34 points and 12 rebounds, busting out the whole arsenal. Aldridge will likely be frustrated with the night he had at the line. Aldridge had become Portland’s best free-throw shooter, shooting 86 percent. But he was 3-for-7 tonight at the line, but he wasn’t alone. Lillard was 1-for-3 and the team as a whole was 12-for-21.

It was an entertaining game throughout. The offense for both teams was clicking for most of the night but it seemed like Portland’s stalled a little bit in the fourth quarter while Miami’s went up another notch. Defensively, Portland had issues containing Wade and Dragic and that led to leaks elsewhere.

Lillard was efficient and Chris Kaman nearly had a double-double, leading the Blazers with 13 rebounds off the bench.

But Portland simply couldn’t get key stops when they needed them down the stretch. Wade scored the last eight points, 15 total in the fourth quarter, and a lot of them Portland couldn’t do anything about. Wade is one of the greatest to ever lace ’em up. But 17 turnovers are something the Blazers could have done a better job on.

Aldridge had a bad airball that could have taken the lead which led to another basket from Wade. The Blazers then turned the ball over on the ensuing possession after being called for an over and back.

Now, according to the rules, the officials made the right call.

From Section III, part e. of the NBA Rule Book.

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 7.38.31 PM

So, the ball was thrown into the front court and it touched Aldridge and he failed to control the ball, causing it to go into the backcourt. Therefore, according to this rue, when CJ McCollum touched the ball it was an over-and-back. Had McCollum gone to the backcourt and Batum threw him the ball it would have been a legal play. You could also argue McCollum could have done a better job just going along with it as if it was legal cause it seemed like it took the officials a little while to figure out what they were doing. But it’s good for McCollum to be in those situations because the Blazers will need him in pressure situations in the future.

Nobody in Miami’s starting-five shot below 50 percent for the game.

The Blazers led after three quarters and are likely kicking themselves for losing this one. They had their chances but Wade and Dragic were a duo of trouble.

Now Portland must try to rebound in Orlando if they hope to salvage a winning trip.

Other things:

  • The Blazers went with a different substitution pattern, using Dorell Wright and McCollum as the first subs. It could have been a match-up thing but it was another interesting wrinkle. Meyers Leonard looked oddly hesitant tonight. He turned down a pair of open corner-3’s and on one occasion it led to an offensive foul call when he tried to go off the dribble.
  • Afflalo looked really comfortable down the stretch and had some good shots that didn’t go down. He looks really comfortable in the role the Blazers need him to play. It’s the other end where Portland isn’t playing as well.
  • The Blazers play the Magic on Friday and they’re terrible. But they lost their last season. Even though they didn’t have Aldridge last season, the Blazers might be a little punch drunk. And rookie Elfrid Payton just notched his first triple-double.
Erik Gundersen

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's covered the NBA for four seasons. You can also occasionally find his work on ESPN.com's NBA section for their TrueCities series. He also fist-bumped with Kanye West once. Follow @BlazerBanter on twitter for more Blazers and NBA news.

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