Thursday, March 25: Trail Blazers 125, Heat 122
The skinny: CJ McCollum had the hot hand. Damian Lillard had the ball in his hands in the final seconds.
Both of them got the job done Thursday at Miami, as McCollum scored 35 points and Lillard buried the game-winning free throws with one second left as Portland beat the Heat 125-122.
The game featured 24 lead changes and eight ties, the final tie being 122-122 after Miami's Bam Adebayo scored on an inbounds play with 10.8 seconds left. Lillard took an inbounds pass and put himself into position for one of his favorite shots — a stepback 3-pointer — and Trevor Ariza fouled him on the arm. Lillard, one of the NBA's best free-throw shooters, hit all three shots. He then broke up Miami's desperation inbounds pass.
The Blazers (26-18) began their four-game road trip on the same day they sent Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood to the Toronto Raptors for guard Norman Powell. (And, it appears Jusuf Nurkic will be returning in Friday's game at Orlando; Nurkic tweeted his intentions to play Friday).
McCollum made 14 of 25 shots (6 of 14 3-pointers) for his 35 points and added eight assists. He had 29 points in the first half. Lillard added 22 points on a night he didn't shoot particularly well again, and nine assists. Carmelo Anthony had 20 points and Enes Kanter 18 points and 16 rebounds.
The Blazers shot .435 from 3-point land (20 of 46).
The Heat (22-23), who have lost five consecutive games, led 110-100 after a 15-3 run, all the 15 points coming on 3-pointers. But, Portland went on an 11-0 run to take the lead on Lillard's driving basket.
The teams basically traded scores the rest of the way, until "Dame Time" arrived.
Adebayo had 29 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and five blocked shots. Tyler Herro also had 29 points, hitting five 3-pointers. Kendrick Nunn had 22 points. The Heat shot .560 from the field, while making 16 of 34 3-pointers (.471).
Quotable: "I felt great in the first half, felt good moving laterally and had my jumper going," McCollum told TNT after the game. "In the fourth, I can't be short (on my jumper). I'm getting there." He missed 25 games, and this was his sixth game back from a foot injury.
"I'm close. I'd say I'm about 90%. I can play three quarters strong, but I gotta play (stronger) in the fourth quarter."
Next up: The Blazers play at Orlando at 5 p.m. Friday. The Magic traded three top players — Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon — before Thursday's NBA trade deadline.
Then, the Blazers play Toronto at 4 p.m. Sunday at Tampa, Florida (where the Raptors play home games in 2021) — meaning Trent and Hood (and Powell) could go against their former team.
Joining team: Coach Terry Stotts said he thinks that Powell will join the team in Orlando, but he doesn't know whether the six-year pro, who's averaging a career-high 19.6 points, will play.
Shorthanded: The Heat sent four players out in trades, inlcuding Kelly Olynyk, and acquired others, including Victor Oladipo from Houston. They were also without Jimmy Butler (sickness) and Goran Dragic (injury).
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