The Miami Heat have now lost five straight games as the Portland Trail Blazers delivered a 105-96 beating in South Beach. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were excellent on offense, with the two-time defending MVP dropping 31 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, and his two-guard totaling 38 points on 12-21 shooting. But the rest of Miami was dreadful, and the Heat's defense wasn't so hot (to say the least), and Chris Bosh was manhandled by LaMarcus Aldridge.
Aldridge scored 26 points on 11-20 shooting, outperforming Bosh -- 3-11 shooting, seven points -- by a wide enough margin to make up from the James/Wade explosions. Gerald Wallace was a revelation off of the bench, too, scoring 22 points and grabbing nine rebounds in 34 minutes. Brandon Roy put in a strong night with 14 points on 5-8 shooting off the bench, and Marcus Camby exploited Miami's thin frontline with six big offensive rebounds in less than 20 minutes of work.
Excepting the tight loss to the Bulls on Sunday, Miami's defense has been a real problem. The Magic scored quite efficiently in beating the Heat last Thursday (1.15 points per possession), and San Antonio shredded Miami (1.33 ppp). Portland scored 1.22 points per possession against the Heat despite averaging about 1.08 (No. 11 in the NBA) on the season. Miami's poor defensive rebounding is part of it, but a lack of turnover creation is something that hurts the Heat on both ends. Miami is at its best forcing mistakes on the perimeter, and punishing the opponent in transition. That isn't happening right now, or at least it's not happening in the crucial moments.
The Heat host the streaking Lakers on Thursday. Should be a blast.