Spoelstra: Oden gives us things we don't have
MIAMI – The Miami Heat made it clear that tonight’s ball game was about showing a sense of urgency and competing from start to finish, considering they had lost seven of their last 11 coming into tonight’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Well, they did so for about 38 minutes. Miami was up 17 with 10:10 remaining in the game with all signs pointing towards Portland getting run out of the gym for the second consecutive game.
However, that’s when the Trail Blazers proceeded to go on a 30-13 run to tie the score at 91 with 30 seconds left.
Portland demonstrated great heart in clawing back despite being amongst a hostile environment, stunning and often quieting the 20, 030 fans in attendance at American Airlines Arena.
“I was proud of the way we competing and got back into the game,” Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said. “It was a frustrating night from an offensive standpoint. We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well but we made shots at the end to kind of get us back into it.”
LeBron James had enough. On the Heat’s final offensive possession out of a timeout, he used a pick at the top of the key to get by Damian Lillard and Robin Lopez met him at the elbow area.
James accelerated to the basket with Lopez on his right hip. He extended for the left-hand layup that nipped the backboard before dropping in as Lopez tried to block it, but missed.
All Nicolas Batum could do was tip his hat to the guy.
“That’s a tough one, making a left-hand layup over a 7-1 center,” Batum said after producing a double-double of 11 points and 10 boards. “He’s the only guy that can do that. Well, I won’t say he’s the only one but only a few guys can do that.”
The King had put the Heat up 93-91 and all that was left on the game clock was 11 seconds. Terry Stotts had two timeouts left but elected not to use them, urging his team to take the ball out and go, following James’ layup.
Rather than allowing the Heat to get their stingy defense set by using a timeout, Stotts wanted to catch them off guard.
Batum brought the ball up the court and passed it to Lillard who caught it near the top of the key. The reigning Rookie of the Year got a step on Norris Cole and all that stood between him and a game-tying basket was Chris Bosh.
Lillard threw up a high floater and Bosh soared to block it at the ball’s peak, closing out a 93-91 Heat victory that resulted in a sweep of the season series (2-0).
“He met it at the very top,” Lillard said of the game-saving block by Bosh after a 19-point effort. “If he wouldn’t have, I feel like it was going in.”
Though obvious, Stotts explained his rationale behind not calling a timeout on that last offensive possession.
“Make or miss, we were going to go,” he said. “We had been scoring in flow and I just wanted to push it up and create something like we did in the previous possessions.”
James dominated the game for Miami (45-26), finishing with 32 points, six rebounds and five assists n 38 minutes. Chris Bosh had 15 points eight rebounds and one crucial block.
Portland (45-26) starts this five-game road trip 0-2. But fortunately for them, they got the Orlando Magic (19-52) up tomorrow night, a team that has lost nine straight. At this point in the season, the Trail Blazers just wants to see progress. So be it if progress in shown against Orlando.
“We just need to get a win,” a frustrated Batum said. “It doesn’t matter who it’s against. We need a win.”
Mo Williams supplied 17 points off the bench and Wesley Matthews added 15. Nicolas Batum committed five turnovers.
Greg Oden, in his first game versus his former team, registered four points, three rebounds and four fouls in 15 minutes as the team’s starting center.
Dwyane Wade did not play due to an ankle injury.
We’re told LaMarcus Aldridge will not return from his back contusion injury until he gets a practice in. That means he’ll probably come back against the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday.