Live from the Moda Center, as the Portland Trail Blazers host the two-time champion Miami Heat.
What bizarro world is this? In a game last night, the Heat sat Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen, and Chris Andersen in anticipation of tonight’s contest against the Blazers. They ended up losing said game in overtime to the terrible, no good, very bad Sacramento Kings. To add injury to insult, the normally indestructible LeBron James hurt his groin and is now questionable to play against the Blazers. Say what?
If the Heat sitting players last night isn’t a sign that Portland now ranks in the NBA’s upper echelon, I don’t know what is. That was deserved respect from the back-to-back champs. Sorry Knicks-Raptors—this is the marquee game of the night.
Well, shoot. LeBron is indeed sitting tonight with that injured groin. I was really looking forward to highlights like this, but instead we'll be stuck with Super Cool Mike Beasley doing his thing (smoking pot and playing XBox?) in Bron's place. This was going to be the biggest game of the season so far for Portland, but now if the Blazers win it will be just another W with an asterisks next to it. Beating the champs without the greatest player in the world just doesn't quite seem as important.
So all the qualifiers are out the door. These are the first and second ranked offenses in the league, Portland coming in first by a comfortable margin, but takeaway LeBron and all bets are off. Without the league MVP on their roster my guess is the Heat probably rank somewhere near average in both offense and defense. We'll see what they can cobble together. Come on, Super Cool Beas—you're our only hope!
Greg Oden is in the house, y’all. This is Greg’s first trip back to the now Moda Center, though he is still a while away from suiting up for game action with the Heat. Yesterday was a mini-Black Friday in the NBA, with Russell Westbrook and Al Horford both going down with serious injuries. There is no other redemptive story that would make all the injuries this season seem less terrible besides having Oden come back and make a positive impact. Good luck, Oden—we are all wishing you the best.
Not having LeBron in this game is just kind of depressing. Ugh. It's like watching Bewitched with Dick Sargent instead of Dick York. As if we wouldn't notice.
11:40 - Chris Bosh scores the first bucket of the game, and WOAH there are a lot of Heat fans in the building tonight. 2-0 Heat.
10:45 - Super Cool Beas for three! It's his world, we're just living in it. 7-3 Heat.
8:33 - The Heat seem intent of fronting LaMarcus Aldridge in the post with Chris Bosh, which had proved effective until that last fadeaway from LA. So far Portland hasn't been able to get a stop on defense, LeBron or no LeBron. 13-8 Heat.
5:54 - Wade tried to post up Nicolas Batum, throwing a bunch of head fakes that went nowhere. Wade threw a shoulder into Nic, trying to bully his way into space, and Batum was still there to block the fadeaway. The stop led to an immediate fast break and open Wesley Matthews three. Finally a good defensive possession, and see what happens? 19-17 Heat.
4:48 - Three-point play for Michael Beasley! When was the last time a player that nearly busted out of the league came back and dropped fifty? We're witnessing history tonight, folks. That's eight for mini-LBJ. 24-17 Heat.
3:31 - Seven straight for the home team to tie this one up. The Portland offense is humming along just fine, it's their defense that straight up can't stop the Heat. If Miami hadn't won two championships in a row, I'd say we'd be looking at a little Ewing Theory action. 24-24 Tie.
1:55 - I could watch Ray Allen shoot threes all day long. That stoke is so good. His triple just elicited the largest cheers of the night. 30-25 Heat.
0:00 - Damian Lillard is feeling it. He was nullified by Chris Paul on Thursday's game, and he looks much more aggressive here early. He hit a pull up three in a clear two-for-one situation, and then found Robin Lopez on a great pick and roll to end the quarter. The Heat were looking for Lillard to launch again from distance, and Lopez had the easiest lane to the basket of the night. 34-30 Blazers.
10:58 - My conquest to catalog every Meyers Leonard basket continues. Dude just hit a sweeping hook shot! 36-32 Blazers.
9:52 - Lillard is three for three on the night, all from distance. Who needs defense? 39-32 Blazers.
8:48 - The Blazers offense is continuing to shine (shooting 74% on the night!), and their defense is finally making noise. Miami needs time after Portland breaks open a nine point lead, the last four coming easily in transition. 43-34 Blazers.
6:42 - It's a Dwyane Wade party. He followed up a turnover, straight up dribbling the ball off his foot and out of bounds (he's just like me!), with an emphatic two-handed slam plus the foul. 45-38 Blazers.
5:52 - The Blazers are the worst teams at forcing turnovers this season, but it feels like the Heat are turning it over a ton—that's two straight possessions with coughing the ball up for Miami. It's like they're used to someone else running their offense or something. 47-38 Blazers.
2:59 - And we have our first Damian Lillard miss of the night. The Blazers have gone somewhat cold—their shooting percentage has dropped down to 52% on the night which is a far cry from the infinity percent they were shooting early. The Heat continue to chip away at Portland's lead, scoring easily at the rim. 50-45 Blazers.
1:54 - Wesley Matthews should not be left alone in the corner. Ever. He's got sixteen on the night, including four from distance. 55-50 Blazers.
0:28 - Wesley Matthews and Damian Lillard can't miss right now. Both of those guys are carrying the offense right now. After that last three from Dame, the two account for 32 of Portland's points tonight, with 24 of those coming from distance. It's raining threes. 60-56 Blazers.
0:00 - Bosh picked up a foul before the inbounds after his last make, trying to poke the ball out of Lopez's hands while still standing out of bounds. Whoops. The Blazers got two freebies because of the foul, as well as a third off of a technical that Bosh was issued for arguing the call. Not a great string of plays there for Christopher Bosh. 62-58 Blazers.
10:03 - Oh no! Super Cool Beas is down! The Heat just had to call a timeout to get him out of the game as he's limping badly. I'm not sure how he hurt himself—Alrdidge just had a nice touch pass to Lopez for a wide-open dunk, and there was no defense being played at all. 66-62 Blazers.
9:36 - The Heat just had two delay of game warnings called on them in about twenty seconds of play. The second one, on a bogus touching the ball after a make, gave Lillard an extra point due to the technical. 67-64 Blazers.
7:59 - Lopez has six points in the quarter, two on a dunk and four on ridiculously ugly hook shots. It's always jarring when the Blazers call Lopez's number in the post, but he seems to hold his own just fine? I guess? It's still too ugly. 69-66 Blazers.
6:21 - Heat lead. Portland had a nice defensive stand, including a massive block by Batum on Wade, but the rebound kicked out to Rashard Lewis for an open three-pointer. Less Lopez on the block, more threes please. 71-69 Heat.
4:51 - Maybe Christopher Bosh is actually a first banana shoved into a third banana role? He's out here balling with twenty-six points and eight rebounds so far, and is eating this Portland defense alive. He is going to video bomb so hard after this game. 75-73 Heat.
4:19 - Matthews was in the corner, wide open, jumping up and down and pleading for the ball. It took five seconds for Mo Williams to figure out what was going on, and by that point, Wes was covered by the much taller Rashard Lewis. That didn't stop him from hitting again from distance, though. He's that hot tonight. 76-75 Blazers.
2:51 - The Heat have left Joel Freeland on back to back pick and roll plays with Mo Williams, and he's made them pay twice. It's hard not to when you're that wide open under the basket. 81-77 Blazers.
1:12 - The Blazers offense is so good. So, so good. Lillard just passed up an open three in the corner to get a better look for Mo Williams, even more open, at the top of the key. The ball movement is so legit. 11 made threes on 22 attempts. 87-79 Blazers.
0:00 - Norris Cole's flattop with a nice move to the rim at the end of the quarter, but the Blazers still hold the lead after three. 88-83 Blazers.
11:05 - It's a Joel Freeland podium game. Dude has five points and nine boards, easily his best game of the season. 90-83 Blazers.
8:28 - Meyers Leonard just tried to jack a contested, one-legged (Dirk-esque) fadeaway three-pointer. That elicited some serious groans from the crowd because, duh, terrible shot, and Leonard's playing time is surely coming to an end here shortly. 92-87 Blazers.
7:26 - Meyers Leonard somehow stays in after the last timeout (really?), and he immediately travels on offense and gets called for a goal-tending on defense. Bye bye, Meyers. 92-89 Blazers.
5:09 - Off of a questionable turnover (it looked like Lopez got hacked), Norris Cole scored in transition while traveling without getting called for it. The crowd is none too happy, voicing their concern loudly. 94-93 Blazers.
4:21 - Wesley Matthews leaked out in transition, and while Chris Bosh was back-peddling to try and get back on defense he straight up biffed it. Like, head over heels in the middle of the court, untouched biffed it. Like Shaqtin' a fool biffed it. 96-93 Blazers.
3:01 - The Blazers ran a beautiful out of bounds play to get a wide open layup for Matthews and the pass was too high. That was the first time I can remember that play not working this year. On the other end, Aldridge was whistled for a goaltend and we're suddenly all tied up. 98-98 Tie.
2:06 - Chris Bosh for three, and the Heat fans in here just exploded. 101-98 Heat.
1:24 - The Blazers had another great defensive stand, but the Heat were able to put it back in off of a fantastic Robin Lopez block at the rim. Things are not breaking right for the Blazers here late. 103-100 Heat.
0:32 - Dwyane Wade fouled Batum on a three-point attempt in the corner. Woah! The second-best Heat player had a boneheaded rookie mistake on that one. Batum drained all three, and Portland has the lead again. 105-103 Blazers.
0:26 - So much for the defense. Wade just curled off of a Ray Allen screen and had a wide open dunk at the rim. We're all tied up again. There are twenty-six seconds left, so Portland can't quite hold for the last shot of the game. 105-105 tie.
0:08 - Lucky break there for Portland. Lillard lost the ball making his drive to hoop, which landed right in Batum's hands. Nicolas pushed the shot short by about six inches, but was bailed out with a foul call. Two freebies later, Portland leads again. 107-105 Blazers.
0:00.5 - Who needs LeBron? Wade drove to the hoop, took two defenders with him, and kicked behind his back to an open Bosh at the three-point line. Money. The Blazers need a miracle here with half a second left. 108-107 Heat.
0:00 - The play was there. Batum handled the inbound, lobbed a pass to a relatively open LaMarcus at the rim. Aldridge missed it long, hitting the backboard and not much else. It was great play call, the shot just wasn't quite there. Heat win, and their players are going bonkers on the court around the man of the night, Christopher Bosh.
FINAL: 108-107 Heat. Behind 37 points and 10 rebound from Bosh, the Heat survive without their star player. Rough loss for Portland, but say this for the Blazers—at least when they lose, they lose in epic fashion. Never a dull moment.