The Portland Trail Blazers fell behind early, managed to fight back, but couldn’t seal the deal in a 120-111 loss against the Miami Heat. Portland showed signs of life throughout the second half, and even briefly held a three-point lead late in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t find enough of a spark to overcome a well-rested and energized Heat squad.
For the second straight contest, the summary of the evening could probably be boiled down to “Lillard versus adversity.” For most of the evening, Dame was the only Blazer who had any semblance of rhythm. At one point he led the team with 32 points before anybody else reached the double-digit threshold.
Random thoughts and takeaways:
- His back hurts. Lillard led the team tonight via 15-28 shooting. The rest of Blazers went 22-60. That’s not going to cut it most nights in the NBA. CJ McCollum and Evan Turner were the primary culprits in the drought, with McCollum missing an open three and its putback opportunity while the game was still tight late in the fourth. All night both missed shots that are normally in their wheelhouse. Miami showed a lot of defensive chops, so the hope is that this was just an anomaly, but shooting 7-20 from the field was McCollum’s third inefficient outing of the season already.
- Beware the Whiteside. When the Blazers go to sleep tonight, it may memories of Hassan Whiteside may give them nightmares. The enigmatic center was at his best against Portland, using his Slenderman-like length to affect just about any shot within the three point line, and ended up with six blocks. His immense reach rendered Jusuf Nurkic virtually useless on offense. Nurkic turned in his worst game of the season with just 5 points and 7 boards. Meyers Leonard finished the game at center alongside Zach Collins - ouch.
- Is it 2006? At 36 years old, Dwyane Wade is far removed from his All-NBA form, but that didn’t stop him from burning the Blazers for 19 points - including an uncharacteristic 4 treys - as he was the primary instigator for Miami’s big run in the early first half. Wade looked rejuvenated, knocking down a tough fadeaway over Evan Turner in the first quarter, and later made Nik Stauskas look like a fool on a transition post-up, appearing more energized than Blazers 10 or more years his junior.
- Harkless Still Not Steady. Maurice Harkless did not return to the game after playing 10 minutes in the first half. NBC Sports Northwest’s Brooke Olzendam reported during the TV broadcast that it was due to “knee soreness,” but no more information has been given. Harkless was dealing with a knee injury throughout the preseason, so this may just be precautionary, but we will continue to monitor.
The Blazers will move on to Indianapolis to take on Indiana Pacers Monday afternoon at 4 p.m.