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A couple mental breakdowns by the Miami Heat cost them in a two-point road loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Blazers 92, Heat 90
Those who stayed up late on the east coast were treated to a dandy of a game. (Note: that does not include me, I watched the end this morning). In a literal sense, the game was decided because Wesley Matthews hit a contested three and Ray Allen and Mario Chalmers missed wide-open threes. You could say the Blazers were lucky to win and I wouldn't really argue with you.
That said, there were several sequences that happened in the fourth quarter that indicated a lack of focus on Miami's part. For one thing, they let the Blazers get into the penalty very early with a lot of reach-in fouls. Portland missed a lot of the ensuing free throws, but they also got a lot of cheap points at the line, which aided their comeback.
For another, there were also a couple maddening breakdowns that led to Blazers points that helped narrow the gap. Why is Dwyane Wade throwing this pass?
That led to a game-tying three-point play. Later, Ray Allen forgets about Batum and surrenders an offensive rebound.
Those plays cost the Heat five points. Those five points ended up making a huge difference.
Also, the Heat's pressure defense, as discussed Wednesday, again hurt them in the fourth quarter a couple times. On this play, the conscious call to have Chris Bosh aggressively double-team the ball-handler leads to an open three for Batum.
Because Bosh is hedging hard on ball-handler Damian Lillard, someone needs to account for LaMarcus Aldridge rolling to the rim. Miami's scheme calls for the defender in the strongside corner, in this case Mike Miller, to do that. In doing so, though, Miami surrenders a wide-open three for Batum, Portland's best three-point shooter. The idea is to force the ball-handler to turn it over, but if that doesn't happen, you see things like this:
That's another three points that ended up costing the Heat. Sure, the Heat missed two wide-open threes that would have won the game, but with better concentration, they never would have been in that position.
Possibly the least-surprising result of the calendar year in the NBA. Without Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith took about a hundred shots, making 10. Paul George continued his rise to all-star status with 24 points, 11 rebounds and six steals. The game itself was incredibly ugly and more lopsided than the five-point margin suggests because of Indiana's stifling defense and slow pace. There's really no reason to waste more time on this one.
There's never a good time to blow a 17-point lead at home and lose to a bad team, but considering all the relocation drama, this result was especially rough.