LaMarcus Aldridge had 34 points and 12 rebounds, Damian Lillard had 17 points, but the Portland Trail Blazers fell in the fourth quarter to the Miami Heat, 108-104 Wednesday night at the AmericanAirlines Arena.
The first quarter was a defense free zone for both squads. Portland hit their first five shots, and nine of their first eleven en route to a 74% shooting percentage in the period. Aldridge led the way with 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting, while Arron Afflalo had six on a pair of threes. The lone issue for the Blazers were four first quarter turnovers. Miami shot 55% from the field, but kept it close with Hassan Whiteside enforcing the middle for the Heat. Despite their torrid shooting pace, Portland led by just five after one.
During the first quarter, Aldridge hit his 5,000th career field goal. He remains second on the all-time Trail Blazers field goals list, behind Clyde Drexler.
The bench helped power the Blazers to an 11 point lead early in the second quarter, with Meyers Leonard scoring five. Once Goran Dragic subbed back in for Miami, the Heat closed to within five. Dragic shot 4-of-4 in the period. The return of the Portland starters got the road squad out to 11 again, with Lillard leading all Blazers in scoring in the period with six. Portland would take a nine point advantage into halftime.
The entire lead nearly slipped away in the third as Miami shot a perfect 6-of-6 from three, and used a combined 21 points from Luol Deng, Udonis Haslem, and Dwyane Wade to tie the game. Haslem hit two threes, setting a new career high for threes in a game, let alone a quarter. Aldridge had nine for Portland to keep ahead, while Lillard added five. With a three by Dragic at the end of the period, the Blazers led by just two entering the final period.
When the fourth rolled around, the Blazers could not hit a shot. Deng and Wade gave Miami the lead with an 11-0 run. With under three minutes to play, Afflalo hit a three to get the lead to two. Dragic missed a runner, and Aldridge hit a shot to tie the game. After a miss by Wade, Afflalo missed a three, but Robin Lopez snared the rebound. His shot was blocked, but Aldridge rebounded and laid it in to give Portland the lead back with 52 seconds remaining. Wade hit a runner to tie the game, and Aldridge missed a fadeaway jumper. Wade responded with a fadeaway of his own for a 106-104 lead.
[Edit for correct information. This play caused much confusion among fans and broadcasters.] On the ensuing inbounds, the referees gave the ball to Miami after an over-and-back call detailed just below. Miami got the ball and Wade hit two free throws to seal the game.
Chris Kaman led the bench scoring with nine. He also pulled down 13 rebounds. Steve Blake had three points and six assists. Afflalo had 15 points.
UPDATE: Here is video of the controversial play:
And here is the text from the NBA's rulebook online:
Rule 8, section 3, subsection e
EXCEPTION: During the last two minutes of the fourth period and/or the last two min- utes of any overtime period, the ball may be passed anywhere (frontcourt or backcourt) on the court. However, if the ball is thrown into the frontcourt and an offensive player on the court fails to control the ball and causes it to go into the backcourt, his team may not be the first to touch the ball.
So it looks like the referees got it correct, McCollum could not recover the ball in the back court after Aldridge tipped it.
McCollum said he tried to save the ball after Aldridge deflected it, but had no one to throw it to...said he should've kept trying #Blazers— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) March 19, 2015
Never comes down to one call. Heat played a fantastic game. Blazers had been 23-4 when shooting 45%+, and 9-1 when 50%+. Shot 51% tonight.— Mike Barrett (@blazermb) March 19, 2015
On his 3/7 night from the free-throw line, Aldridge said: "I'm not going to miss free throws like that again." #Blazers— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) March 19, 2015
"I feel like the moments when I could have been great or elite, I wasn't. — @aldridge_12, being ridiculous.— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) March 19, 2015