The steam is flooding out of American Airlines Arena these days, and the Blazers weren’t ready to refuel the fire. They kept the Heat on ice Tuesday night with a 105-96 victory, winning their fourth straight in Miami, and their fourth straight overall. Portland leaves Florida with two strong wins and looked like the better team on the court tuesday night. The eyes remain on the Heat’s slide, but Portland played with a palpable confidence, perhaps sensing their opponents wounded psyche.
Their ball movement was swift, timely and effective in the first half, to the tune of fifteen assists. Portland committed just three turnovers in the half, compared to Miami’s nine. The key discrepancy, however, were the bench contributions; Portland’s outscored Miami’s 26-5 in the first half, and 41-8 for the game. Despite Miami’s 58% shooting in the first half, Portland held a a 57-51 lead – largely due to Roy and Wallace’s bench scoring, who are gradually carving their place in Portland’s puzzle .
Back and forth through the third, Rudy Fernandez broke a tie at 77 early in the fourth with a left elbow three, followed immediately by an Aldridge 20-footer that put them up five. A Lebron charging call elicited a few edgy murmurs from the crowd, intensified moments later by a Gerald Wallace layup that put them up seven. The finest moment in his finest game as a Blazer came moments later, as Andre Miller set-up Wallace for a powerful leaning lay-in into the chest of James, finishing a conventional three-point play that put Portland up nine.
The Heat, however, weren’t burned out yet, with Wade (14 in the fourth) and James doing their best to drag them to victory. A spectacular spinning baseline drive; a tear drop in the lane by Wade cut the lead back t0 four. Mario Chalmers fed a trailing James on the fast break for a ferocious dunk to slice the lead to two with under five minutes left.
The Blazers bounced back promptly.
Aldridge – now commanding constant attention – dished out of the double team to Roy for a top of the arc three that made it 96-91 with 3:25 left. Then, a smooth take by the vet Andre Miller – who was fantastic in the fourth – pushed the lead to seven.
After a blatant offensive foul by Chris Bosh, a silky turn around jumper by Aldridge stretched the margin to nine. Refusing to submit, Dwyane Wade hit a three to cut it back to six; but with the shot clock expiring, Wes Matthews answered with a three of his own, all but sealing it for Portland.
The Blazers prevailed despite 69 combine points from Wade and James, whose dominance was neutralized by Portland’s balance and poise.
LaMarcus Aldridge was his usual efficient self with 26 points on 11-20 shooting. For the first time as a Blazer, Gerald Wallace showed us his entire arsenal; attacking, defending, denying with perpetual aggression - he finished with 22 points, nine rebounds off the bench.
Brandon Roy and Andre Miller each added 14; each calmly knocking down timely perimeter shots; Roy in the first half, Miller in the second.
About the Author
Written by Brandon Marcus
I am 25 year old native New Yorker. I went to the University of Florida where I got my degree Sports Management. I am a die hard fan of the New York Giants, Knicks, Mets and the movie, Die Hard. I'll be covering the Portland Trail Blazers, but also will keep my eye on the league as a whole, and will drop in from time to time with some random thoughts.