The Portland Trail Blazers were down in the fourth quarter to the Miami Heat on Monday evening, but that was no problem for a team that finally returned Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons to the starting lineup after more than a week of rest. Lillard and Simons drew the defensive attention, scoring 19 and 25 respectively, but Dame fed Portland’s forwards for open looks, spurring a huge comeback. Grant was the first to strike from the corner. Then, with the game tied and Portland holding the final possession, Hart brought this:
Blazers the most clutch team in the league. No debate pic.twitter.com/8bZaYck2xJ— (@503Blazerfans) November 8, 2022
The result was a 110-107 Blazers victory, leaving them 2-1 to start one of their toughest road swings of the season.
Here’s how the action went.
The Blazers opened the game with energy on both ends of the court. Good zone defense had Miami unsettled, while the Blazers went to work on the offensive end. They jumped out to a 6-0 lead started by Simons drilling a corner three for his first attempt of the night. The good start wouldn’t last though, as the Heat went on a 12-0 run that included a few in your face threes from Kyle Lowry and Max Strus.
The Blazers would respond with some shots of their own beyond the arc, closing to within one at 16-17 at the first real break in the action with 5:20 left in the quarter.
Portland continued to cause Miami difficulties with their defense after the timeout, sometimes lining up in a zone while other times matching up more tightly in man. Dame got on the board with a 3, but neither team could sustain any sort of a run. Miami got their nose out in front as the quarter was coming to a close, but a tough shot by Simons at the buzzer tied it up at 28.
The Blazers went to their bench to start the quarter, but it was the Heat who came out on fire. Miami scored on their first six possessions of the quarter including three makes from beyond the arc. A quick Portland timeout found the Blazers suddenly down by seven at 32-39.
A new wrinkle Miami threw at the Blazers was a full court press. They didn’t use it all of the time, but just enough to disrupt the Blazers’ rhythm and causing the Blazers to be delayed starting their offensive sets.
Miami seemed to have all of the momentum, but the Blazers hung tough, aided by a bailout defensive three seconds against Miami just as the shot clock expired and a Lowry technical foul. A deep three from Lillard cut the lead to two, but some sloppy play by Portland and a few swallowed whistles gave Miami a chance to widen the lead again, which they gleefully did, extending it back to seven.
Thing didn’t get much better after the timeout, with Miami’s defense leading to transition opportunities. Two makes late in the quarter from beyond the arc by Simons limited the damage. The teams went into the locker room with the Heat leading 53-60.
Both teams had 10 makes from deep in the half, and Portland was especially sloppy with 12 turnovers.
Portland came out of the locker room a day late and a dollar short. The Heat found themselves with open shots, while deep misses from Lillard and Simons meant that the Heat could take their largest lead of the night at 12. Head Coach Chauncey Billups called a timeout to try to right the ship.
Energy improved some after the timeout, but not the turnovers. With Miami’s offense taking advantage of Blazers mistakes, the Heat widened the lead to 15. Time for the Blazers to claw some points back. Some stingy Portland defense and scrappy play on the offensive end cut it to 10, but the Blazers just couldn’t find a sustained run to really get back into the game. Credit the Heat defense as they made the Blazers work for everything they got.
A late transition surge from Hart baited Gabe Vincent into a dumb foul, earning Hart three free throws with just .1 showing on the clock. He converted two, cutting the Miami lead to eight at the end of the 3rd.
Grant lead all scorers with 17 point at the end of three, with Dame and Anfernee adding 14 and 13 respectively. The Blazers were thankful that the Heat went cold from three in the 3rd, going 1 for 10 in the quarter.
Miami opened the quarter with a made three, but some inspired play from Justise Winslow, a missed attempt from deep for the Heat and a three from Simons allowed the Blazers to cut the lead to four in a big hurry. Timeout Miami with 9:37 left.
Unfortunately for Portland the Heat came out of the timeout with something to prove, extending the lead back to 10 with just over six minutes to play. The Blazers fought valiantly, getting to the foul line and generating good looks with ball movement. However, the Heat kept the Blazers at arm’s length, finding buckets when the Blazers looked like they might make a run.
Then the game changed. Following a Portland timeout with just over 3 minutes to go, a Simons runner got it down to five. Another Portland timeout was followed by a Grant three, a missed three from Miami and a driving layout from Dame. Tie game!
Butler restored the lead for Miami, but a Simons and one gave the Blazers the lead with 1:40 to go. After a pair of Heat free throws, Dame had a chance to take the lead with free throws of his own. After splitting a pair to tie the game, Jimmy Butler gave the Heat a two point lead with less than minute to go.
A Lillard drive and kick for a Grant three gave the Blazers the lead with 29.3 seconds to go.
The Blazers forced the miss but couldn’t snag the rebound as Lillard spilled the ball out of bounds. After the inbounds, Simons was called for a foul against Bam Adebayo, but a successful challenge turned the foul called on Simons into a offensive foul against Adebayo. Blazers ball with 10.2 seconds to go and a one point lead.
A pair of Simons free throws extended the lead to three with 8.5 seconds to go. A Strus three tied up the game, but 6.2 seconds were left on the clock. A furious attack down the court by Lillard lead to an open three from the corner by Hart, and he nailed it at the buzzer! Blazers win!
BLAZERS WIN!!— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) November 8, 2022
BLAZERS WIN!! pic.twitter.com/35S7SZza7R
The road trip continues with a visit to the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday at 4:00 p.m., Pacific.
Stay tuned for Matthew Legros’ extended look at tonight’s tremendous comeback shortly.