The Portland Trail Blazers defense showed up again last night for a 99-92 win over the Miami Heat. The 92 points were a season low for a Trail Blazers opponent. Portland ended the game by going on a 14-1 run, as Miami missed their last nine field goal attempts. No Trail Blazer scored over 20. Damian Lillard led the way with 19, followed by CJ McCollum and Maurice Harkless with 17 apiece. The bench played a vital role in the win, as Allen Crabbe, Evan Turner, and Meyers Leonard all played well.
December is off to a decent start. pic.twitter.com/xn6Cp9AF5k— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) December 4, 2016
Harkless was all over the court tonight, making good things happen. He finished with seven rebounds to go along with his 17 points, was diving for loose balls, and making plays on defense. What's great about the way he has been playing, is the consistency that he has shown.
Over the past four games, Maurice Harkless has averaged 19.3 points on 30-51 FG (58.8%). He has scored 17+ points in each game.— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) December 4, 2016
Maurice Harkless has been so good for the Blazers this season ... https://t.co/q1VlFkcBeC— Jason Quick (@jwquick) December 4, 2016
Maurice is out here picking pockets. pic.twitter.com/k39RrxebhV— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) December 4, 2016
Ed Davis, who likely will go back to the bench when Al-Farouq Aminu returns, was asked about the second unit coming together.
– video via CSN NW
Jason Quick of CSN NW on the group effort last night...
Damian Lillard led the Blazers with 19 points, but CJ McCollum and Maurice Harkless were the late-game heroes while Allen Crabbe and Evan Turner played big roles off the bench. McCollum scored seven of his 17 points in the fourth quarter and Harkless had 17 points and seven rebounds, one of them a key offensive rebound with under 30 seconds left.
Crabbe had 16 points off the bench, including four three pointers, and Turner had nine points, six rebounds and six assists.
Trail Blazers digital reporter Casey Holdahl on the Blazers defensive effort...
Much was made of the work the Trail Blazers put in to improve their defense after Wednesday night's victory versus the Pacers, though it looked like that improvement was short-lived after the Heat finished the first quarter of Saturday night's game shooting 62 percent from the field. But the Trail Blazers were able to hold the Heat to under 40 percent shooting in the second quarter while using a 21-8 run to build an eight-point lead, their largest of the night.
"We knew it would come to us," said Allen Crabbe. "No team is going to shoot 60 percent the whole game, and if they do, they, they did a good job of shooting that well for the night. But I felt like we locked in more. Defense is really a priority for us now and we find that us being 28th to 30th in defensive rating in the league, that's crazy for us. We just finding ways to get stops and I feel like it's coming around for us now."
Casey later notes...
Portland would ultimately hold Miami to under 100 points, snapping a 13-game streak of their opponents surpassing the century mark. The Trail Blazers would ultimately hold the Heat to 43 percent shooting, three points better than the home team would shoot in the winning effort.
Next up for the Trail Blazers is a Monday match-up with the Chicago Bulls. It' is the first game of a five-game road trip, as they play eight of their next nine games on the road. The Trail Blazers will need to continue their strong defensive play over this next stretch of games, as they fight to stay over .500.
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