Heat are too hot for Blazers to touch

LeBron, Wade account for 71 points in victory

By Matt Calkins, Columbian Sports Reporter

Published:

Updated: March 1, 2012, 11:32 PM

 

PORTLAND — The Trail Blazers locker room was draped with scouting reports and featured a dry-erase board covered with all sorts of reminders and notes on how to counteract the Heat.

Miami’s board, meanwhile, probably looked something like this: We have LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. They don’t.

Playing without Chris Bosh, the power forward coping with the death of a family member, the Heat were left with just two thirds of their Big 3. But after downing the Blazers 107-93, Miami looked like anything but a squad missing an All-Star.

James tallied 38 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, answering every boo with a bucket. Wade added 33 points and 10 assists, responding to each jeer with a jumper.

And despite a bevy of mini-runs throughout the second half, the Blazers never cut the lead down to single-digits. This was being outmatched in its purest form.

“They have two great players over there — LeBron and Dwyane were on top of their game tonight,” said McMillan, who came off much more accepting that he did discontent after the game. “I thought our guys really worked hard to try to force those guys over the top ... but it’s a tough matchup when you have guys like that who can score and are willing passers.”

Thursday’s result wasn’t a huge surprise, of course. The Heat (28-7) own the best record in the Eastern Conference and an NBA-high nine-game winning streak. It came into the game having won five straight road games while outscoring opponents by an average of 9.4 points throughout the year.

McMillan admitted beforehand that, while watching tape of Miami, “they can be intimidating.” And while the final score may have been a case of intimidation, it was more likely domination.

Playing in its first game since the All-Star break, the Heat led 60-42 at halftime while Wade and James posted 22 and 19 points, respectively.

Some hoops came via fadeaway jumpshot, others by alley-oop dunks, and a few by not-humanly-possible hanging layups. And when either was hit with a double team, the Heat showed why its the best 3-point shooting team in the NBA — going 6 of 11 from beyond the arc.

“That’s why they’re the best players in the world,” said Nicolas Batum, who suffered a cut lip after taking an elbow while battling for a rebound. “Sometimes, you can’t do anything.”

LaMarcus Aldridge, whose game was praised by James before the game, was the only Blazer playing anywhere close to the level of his All-Star opponents. The power forward scored 20 points on 10-of-18 shooting while pulling down six rebounds. After the game, however, the big man took no solace in the fact that two of the league’s best players just happened to be at their best Thursday night. Especially given the fact that the Blazers (18-18) have fallen out of the playoff picture for the moment.

“We have a lot of talent, I never saw us being in this position,” Aldridge said. “But now we’re here ... we’ve put ourselves in this hole and now we have to dig out of it.”

James said after the game that he and Wade are “playing basketball at an all-time high.” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra added that “they have a great connection,” saying that “they give the look, the ball goes up there and I think it surprises everybody, but they know where it’s going.”

The Blazers, on the other hand, aren’t quite sure where they’re going. The team is now 0-2 since returning from the All-Star break and have lost by an average of 11.5 points.

Note

In his first game in almost a year, Blazers center Joel Przybilla played 19 minutes Thursday night while scoring four points and grabbing six rebounds. He also was seen diving for loose balls and battling directly with James.

Asked of his aggressiveness, Przybilla answered: “Just another day at the office.”