It was an amazing scene if you were able to catch the Portland Trail Blazers taking down the defending champion Miami Heat 92-90 tonight on national television at the Rose Garden.
The win was the Trail Blazers' ninth straight victory at home and improves their record to 11-2 in games decided by six or fewer points.
The Trail Blazers (20-15) made big plays on offense and defense down the stretch to come away victorious. But what probably set them up for success was what happened before the game between two teammates.
Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum set out to do the unthinkable – end LeBron James' 54-game 20-point consecutive streak. To accomplish such a goal as that is nearly impossible, but somehow, someway, they were able to attain it.
James ended up with 15 points on 6-of-16 shooting. Matthews started out on him and Batum guarded him on switches. The combination of Matthews' strength and Batum's length got the better of King James tonight.
“That's what I'm most proud of with Wes is that we finally stopped his 20-point streak and won the game,” Batum said with excitement. “So that's what I'm most proud of with Wes. We said 'let us end this 20-point streak tonight.'”
A more subdue Matthews said they felt like it was a realistic and attainable goal. Especially for two guys who take pride in their defense.
“We are able to do that,” Matthews said. “We always take pride in our defense. Why not try to do something like that?”
Coming into the game, in 17 career games in the Rose City, James was averaging 30.1 points per game, his second-highest average against any NBA team (Utah 30.4). Tonight, the Trail Blazers' tandem cut that average in half.
“You always want to do something like that,” Matthews said. “We were able to do that tonight. He was facilitating a lot and he had a very productive game, still. But we wanted to make everything difficult on him.”
As for the game itself, it was filled with runs and stops. The Heat at times, showed why they are the cream of the crop in this league. But at the right time, the Trail Blazers showed why they are better than what most people thought.
Stunning the Heat on TNT and reaching their 20th victory in early January leads to praise and respect, but that's not something this team is trying to hear.
“I don't even care about if they respect us or not,” Matthews said. “We're just going to go out and play every single night like it's our last and we'll see what happens. We didn't care what people thought before and we don't care now.”
Batum had a team-high 28 points to go along with six rebounds and four assist. LaMarcus Aldridge collected his second consecutive double-double – 18 points and 11 rebounds. Matthews had 18 points. Damian Lillard contributed 10 points and eight assist.
Chris Bosh led the Heat (23-11) with 29 points. Dwyane Wade put in 18 points and Ray Allen had 15 points off the bench.