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Whiteside Thrives, Blazers Fall to the Heat

Hassan Whiteside exploded for 28 points in the Heat’s 118-108 victory over the Trail Blazers.

NBA: Miami Heat at Portland Trail Blazers Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Trail Blazers three-game winning streak came to a close in a 118-108 loss to the Heat. Dwyane Wade, playing in his final game in Portland, delivered a vintage 22-point effort off the bench. Along with Wade, Miami’s night was bolstered by a near-perfect 28-point performance from Hassan Whiteside. Despite trailing by double-digits entering the fourth quarter, CJ McCollum almost carried the sluggish Blazers to victory by torching the nets from beyond the arc. It was an excellent showing for the Heat on the road and an equally rough night for two of Portland’s primary producers. Both Damian Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic endured a night filled with forgettable moments.

Finding Rhythm Early

The Blazers looked like a team that had been away from the court for an extended amount of time in the first quarter. Portland’s offense was choppy and its defense wasn’t much better. Buoyed by a favorable rebounding advantage, the Heat helped themselves to a plethora of favorable looks throughout the first period. Aided by those extra possessions, Josh Richardson and Whiteside got into a groove early. Richardson and Whiteside combined to go a perfect 9-9 from the field in the first quarter—paving the way for an impressive night for both players.

Whiteside’s dominating performance on offense carried over to the defensive end. The former Kings castoff kept Nurkic off balance from the opening tip. When he wasn’t pestering Nurkic, Whiteside was busy invading passing lanes and altering nearly every shot in the paint. He finished with 28 points, 11 rebounds, four steals and two blocks.

Layman Shines, Again

Rodney Hood’s presence on the bench didn’t seem to bother Jake Layman. The two players are set to compete for minutes on the wing and Layman’s penchant for creating instant offense will give Hood all he can handle. As usual, Layman was assertive and active on offense. He was a key contributor in the Blazers’ run in the early portion of the fourth quarter and finished with 25 points.

Maurice Harkless, the other player who will likely be impacted by Hood’s presence, did not register a noteworthy night. Harkless attempted one shot from the field in 19 minutes of action.

Wade’s Farewell

Wade made his final trip to Portland a memorable one. From a few well-timed drives to posting up smaller guards, he had all his vintage moves working. Outside of the nostalgia, Wade’s scoring was crucial to the Heat’s victory. Every time the Blazers put together a stretch of positive results, Wade would answer with a bucket.

CJ Dazzles From Distance

The Heat made things difficult for the Blazers offense for long stretches, but they didn’t have an answer for McCollum’s 3-point shooting. He connected on seven of his 14 shots from beyond the arc and he forced Miami to commit multiple defenders to him late in the fourth quarter. McCollum finished with 33 points, his third 30-point game in his last five contests.

It was a less-than-ideal return to action for Nurkic on Tuesday. He struggled to get his own offense going and finished with eight points. On the positive side, he recorded six assists and committed two turnovers.

The Blazers turned to their 3-point shooters in the fourth quarter, which limited Al-Farouq Aminu’s time on the court. He collected five points in 17 minutes of action.

Lillard managed to finish with a double-double, but his scoring was sorely missed by the Blazers. He went 5-15 from the field and earned only two attempts from the free throw line.

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The Blazers return to action on Thursday to host LaMarcus Aldridge and the Spurs.

—Steve / @SteveDHoops /