Trail Blazers Come-From-Behind To End Losing Streak Versus Heat

by Casey Holdahl
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MIAMI -- The Portland Trail Blazers ended a five-game losing streak and got their first victory of a five-game road trip by defeating the Miami Heat 102-95 in front of an announced sellout crowd of 19,600 Wednesday night at American Airlines Arena.

"We've lost five in a row, that's tough for anybody to deal with," said Damian Lillard. "We needed one to get going back in the right direction and it wasn't a game that we came out and just made every shot and everything went well. We had to go get it, that's usually how it is when you're trying to get things going back in the right direction."

The Trail Blazers are now 14-13 overall and 7-5 on the road this season. Not only did the victory end a five-game losing streak for the Trail Blazers, it also extended their winning streak versus the Heat to four games.

As had been the case during their losing streak, the Trail Blazers found themselves facing an early double-digit deficit Wednesday night in Miami. Behind 15 points on percent 5-of-5 three-point shooting from Wayne Ellington, 11 points from Josh Richardson and the Trail Blazers turning the ball over six times for 11 Heat points, Portland went into the second quarter trailing 33-21.

The Trail Blazers cleaned up the turnovers in the second quarter and shot better than 50 percent from both the field and from three, but Miami was even better, going 11-of-17 from the field in the quarter. Even through they were able to turn seven Heat turnovers leading to 10 points, the Trail Blazers still went into the intermission trailing 60-50.

But Portland's defense would stiffen up considerable in the second half. Though they trailed by as many as 16 points in the third quarter, the Trail Blazers managed to pull off the come-from-behind victory thanks to holding the Heat to 35 points in the second half while outscoring their opponent 32-16 in the fourth quarter.

"I think it was hard to evaluate because of the way Ellington got off, but we limited him to three shot attempts in the second half and the one he made was well contested," said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. "We had good presence at the rim, pursued on pick and rolls, we rebounded well. We did all the things you need to do to defend well."

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TOP SCORERS

CJ McCollum led all scorers with 28 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the field, 3-of-7 shooting from three and 7-of-7 shooting from the free throw line. McCollum also added three assists, three rebounds and two steals in 42 minutes.

Damian Lillard scored 13 of his 18 points in the second half to go with six assists and three rebounds in 37 minutes. Al-Farouq Aminu finished with a double-double of 15 points and 13 rebounds in 37 minutes. Aminu, who is shooting 46 percent from three this season, went 5-of-8 from beyond the arc. It is the fourth time this season that Aminu has finished a game with at least five three-pointers.

Ed Davis finished with 11 points and five rebounds and Evan Turner added 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting in 23 minutes.

The Heat were led by Wayne Ellington, who made his first six three-pointers before finishing the night with 24 points. Dion Waiters added 17 points on 6-of-18 shooting. Goran Dragic and Josh Richardson each added 11 and James Johnson and Kelly Olynyk each pitched in 10.

YOU ALWAYS REMEMBER YOUR FIRST

With Jusuf Nurkić still dealing with a sprained right ankle and Meyers Leonard sitting out due to illness, Trail Blazers rookie Zach Collins got the first start of his career Wednesday night in Miami. After playing sparingly in the first 23 games of the season, the 7-0 center out of Gonzaga has comported himself well in the last two games, finishing with five points and three rebounds in 19 minutes in Saturday’s loss to the Rockets and 9 points, seven rebounds and three steals in Monday night’s loss to the Warriors in Oakland.

Between Collins’ recent play and having few other options available, Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts decided to go with the rookie to start the game, though Ed Davis ended up getting the majority of minutes at center while playing almost the entire fourth quarter. Even so, Collins still ended the game with nine points on 4-of-9 shooting, three rebounds and a block in 21 minutes.

DAME GOT TO MAKE HIS FREE THROWS

Though he struggled from the field in Wednesday night's game, Damian Lillard went a perfect 7-of-7 from the free throw line, improving his percentage from the charity stripe this season to 93 percent. Three of Lillard's free throws came late in the fourth quarter, which helped the Trail Blazers secure their first victory of a five-game road trip.

And in the process, Lillard passed the late, great Jerome Kersey for fourth in franchise history in made free-throws.

THEY SAID IT

"We needed this win in the worst way. I'm thankful we were able to come away with it." -- CJ McCollum

LISTEN UP

NOTEWORTHY

• Trail Blazers snap their five-game losing streak and improves to 7-5 away from the Moda Center. With tonight’s comeback win, they are 1-1 on their current five-game road trip.

• Trail Blazers held the HEAT to just 35 points (11 field goals) and 34.4 percent shooting from the floor (11-for-34) in the second half, outscoring them, 52-35, over the final 24 minutes.

• Damian Lillard scored nine of 18 points in the fourth quarter (five points over the final 1:40) after scoring just nine points through the first three quarters tonight (2-for-8 from the field). In his last appearance in Miami last season, he scored 49 points and made nine threes.

• C.J. McCollum scored a game-high 28 points, his 16th 20-point scoring game this season. Including Shabazz Napier (nine points), the Blazers guards scored 55 points tonight.

• Zach Collins made his first career start tonight in place of Meyers Leonard. He jumped center tonight against fellow Gonzaga draftee Kelly Olynyk. They are two of the three Gonzaga players in the league this season, along with Indiana’s Domantas Sabonis.

NEXT UP

Next up, Portland’s five-game road trip continues with a Thursday night tilt versus the other team from Florida, the Orlando Magic, at Amway Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.