PORTLAND, Ore. – The Miami Heat were three minutes from a perfect road trip against Western Conference teams.
But then it all caught up to them.
Portland ended on a 14-1 run Saturday to come away with a 99-92 victory at the Moda Center. The Heat took a 91-85 lead with three minutes to play on a Hassan Whiteside put back and then missed their final nine shots.
Whiteside led the shorthanded Heat with 28 points and 16 rebounds and Goran Dragic added 18 points, eight assists and nine rebounds. Miami (7-13) started the game with 10 healthy players and lost James Johnson late in third quarter after he picked up his second technical foul. Coach Erik Spoelstra used eight players with five playing at least 28 minutes and four playing 35 or more.
“None of us are making any excuses,” Spoelstra said. “We were there at the end, we were up six. You have to credit Portland, that’s what they do so often is play well in those clutch last two or three minutes, it becomes make or miss and we missed some chippies that could go.
“Our guys earned our ice tonight. It’s unfortunate we didn’t come out with this. Ultimately you want to give yourself the best opportunity to win at the end on the road and we did give ourselves that chance we just didn’t get it done.”
Here are our five takeaways:
Solid road trip: Miami may have had its worst three minutes of the road trip in its final three, but the Heat will take winning two of three against Western Conference teams Denver, Utah and Portland while playing shorthanded the entire trip. The Heat’s schedule gets even tougher this week with four games in five nights, including three more on the road after coming home to face the Knicks on Tuesday.
“It wasn’t enough tonight,” Josh McRoberts said. “This is a tough place to play and they’re a tough team. But it’s encouraging because I think we left it all out there. We played as hard as we could. You can leave with your head held up a little bit.”
Whiteside, Dragic a dynamic one-two punch: Here’s what the Heat’s two best players combined for against the Trail Blazers: 46 points, 25 rebounds and nine assists. And they shot 20 of 35. Dragic, though, appeared to run out of gas more so than Whiteside, missing all but one of his seven shots in the fourth quarter.
“I feel comfortable,” Dragic said. “We thought we played really well tonight. Unfortunately we didn’t win, but we showed that we’re a really good defensive team. And at the end, we didn’t make some open shots. But it’s really tough to play here. Portland is a great offensive team. They’re going to score on you. And I feel like we showed up today.”
Bench giveth, bench taketh away: Two nights after scoring a season-high 55 points, the Heat got little help from their reserves Saturday. Tyler Johnson and James Johnson had as many technical fouls as they did field goals in the first half. Each was called for a technical and they were a combined 2-of-13 from the field with a minus 35. James picked up his second T late in the third quarter and was ejected. At one point Tyler missed 10 straight shots before hitting a three pointer that gave the heat a 89-85 lead. But in the end they combined for 11 points, shot 4-of-19 and finished with a minus 47 as Miami’s bench finished with 14.
Heat lose their composure: Miami aided Portland’s comeback from a 12-point first quarter deficit to a five-point second quarter lead with three technical fouls. First it was James Johnson, who picked up a T when he jumped in to protect Dragic after Dragic had contact with 7-foot-1 Meyers Leonard. Then it was Spoelstra’s turn for arguing a non-call on a Tyler Johnson drive. Finally, Tyler Johnson lost his cool after he being knocked down on another drive and not receiving the call. Tyler emphatically waved his arm as he was walking to the bench.
McRoberts coming through: Josh McRoberts entered Thursday’s game in Utah shooting 22 percent and averaging 2.0 points per game. In the last two games he has scored 23 points on 10 of 19 shooting. After scoring 10 points in Utah, McRoberts had 13 points in Portland while playing a season high 28 minutes.
“I’m starting to feel a little more comfortable,” McRoberts said. “It’s going to take some. I haven’t been able to do much since the playoffs last year. Hopefully keep building on the comfort level I find.”