Well, we hoped for the best, but could see it coming. The Miami Heat put on a show for the Rose Garden faithful tonight, opening up a nice halftime lead over the Portland Trail Blazers and holding on for an easy victory. The bright spot for the Blazers was the return of Joel Przybilla, manning the middle for the first time in a year.
The Blazers were led in scoring by LaMarcus Aldridge (20 points), Jamal Crawford (18 points, 4 assists)), Nicolas Batum (17 points, 3 steals) and Wesley Matthews (15 points, 7 rebounds)
The Blazers came out energized in the first quarter, running to a quick 8 point lead. However, as you'd expect, Miami marched right back. In fact, they passed them in a Ferrari, turning an 8 point deficit into a 9 point lead within minutes, and ending the quarter on 26-10 run to lead by 8.
In the second quarter, Joel Przybilla was introduced to the Rose Garden. However, since TNT didn't show it, I'll guess it was loud. And within minutes, Miami needed a timeout as Portland pulled within three. After that, the wheels came off. Miami ramped up the D, the Blazer offense withered, and before you could look up, Miami had an 18 point lead at the halftime buzzer.
The Miami domination continued to start the third, as the lead reached 25 with just over 6 minutes left (73-48). Finally, the Blazers woke up, as Wallace and Crawford combined for 7 quick points, forcing a Heat timeout. However, the teams played to a standstill for the rest of the quarter, with the Heat still leading by 18 after three.
The Blazers refused to give up as the fourth quarter started, as Aldridge, Batum and Matthews helped cut the lead to 11 after the first four minutes, and 10 after 7 minutes. Miami then turned up the D, but it was unnecessary as the Blazers seemed might happy to simply hand them the ball on repeated possessions. Before long, the clock ticked under 2 minutes, and it was too late for one last run. The Blazers soon headed to the locker room with a .500 record and lots of questions.
Check out the box score if you must, then stay tuned for Dave's recap and Ben's media row report. The Blazers are back in action Saturday, with a surprisingly-vital game at home against the Timberwolves. -- Tim