PORTLAND -- It's always good to get a win at home before heading out for an extended road trip. In the fourth quarter of Saturday night's game versus the Heat, the Trail Blazers made sure they'd be leaving home happy.
After going down by six points late in the fourth, Portland outscored Miami 14-1 in the final 2:57 of the game to come away with the 99-92 victory in front of a soldout crowd of 19,393 at the Moda Center.
"I was really pleased with the way we finished the game," said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. "To holed them to one point in the last three minutes was pretty impressive. We got a little roll going on offense there at the end, but Miami really scrapped. They played hard, Whiteside had an impact on the game. It was good to get a win before going on the road."
The Trail Blazers are now 11-10 for the season and 6-4 at home while improving to 6-2 in their last eight home games. The victory also gives the Trail Blazers their first consecutive victories for the first time in nearly a month.
Much was made of the work the Trail Blazers put in to improve their defense after Wednesday night's victory versus the Pacers, though it looked like that improvement was short-lived after the Heat finished the first quarter of Saturday night's game shooting 62 percent from the field. But the Trail Blazers were able to hold the Heat to under 40 percent shooting in the second quarter while using a 21-8 run to build an eight-point lead, their largest of the night.
"We knew it would come to us," said Allen Crabbe. "No team is going to shoot 60 percent the whole game, and if they do, they, they did a good job of shooting that well for the night. But I felt like we locked in more. Defense is really a priority for us now and we find that us being 28th to 30th in defensive rating in the league, that's crazy for us. We just finding ways to get stops and I feel like it's coming around for us now."
After going into the half trailing 55-49, Miami went on an 11-0 run early in the second half to take a 60-57 lead. And though they'd shoot just 35 percent in the third, Portland would still manage to take a two-point lead into the fourth and final quarter.
Though that lead would only last for the first minute of the fourth, with the Heat building a seven-point lead after a Tyler Johnson three-pointer with 8:12 to play in regulation. Portland would tie the game a few minutes later after a Lillard runner with 6:07 to play, but Miami, despite having just 10 players in uniform, would make a final push, going up six with 3:03 to play after a Hassan Whiteside tip in.
But a Wayne Ellington free throw with just over two minutes to play would be the last Heat score of the night. And in the meantime, CJ McCollum would score seven points, Maurice Harkless would come up with a couple timely rebounds and Mason Plumlee and Crabbe made three of four free throws to cap the 14-1 run and come away with a seven-point victory.
"We didn't get great looks, we didn't knock down some of the shots that we usually make and we were at a deficit," said Damian Lillard. "We get stops, we get more physical, we come up with rebounds and loose balls and we just find a way. When you've got to gut one out like that and find a way then your offense isn't there, I think that shows great character for our team and it shows growth. It shows that we're growing."
Portland would ultimately hold Miami to under 100 points, snapping a 13-game streak of their opponents surpassing the century mark. The Trail Blazers would ultimately hold the Heat to 43 percent shooting, three points better than the home team would shoot in the winning effort.
Five Trail Blazers finished the game in double figures led by Lillard, who went 6-of-19 from the field to finish with 19 points, six assists and four rebounds in 35 minutes. Both Harkless and McCollum finished with 17 points, with the former adding seven rebounds and the latter handing out four assists. Mason Plumlee came one rebound short of a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds in 33 minutes.
Crabbe went 4-of-6 from three on the way to 16 points off the bench. And Evan Turner filled up the stat sheet with nine points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals in 27 minutes.
The Heat were led by Hassan Whiteside, who went 12-of-16 from the field for 28 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks in just under 41 minutes. Goran Dragic finished with 18 points, while Josh McRoberts added 13.
Next up, the Trail Blazers head out for a five-game trip that starts in Chicago Monday night versus the Bulls.
"I feel confident," said Crabbe of heading out on the five-game trip. "It was good to get these last two wins here at home and go into the road trip with some momentum. We know how difficult it is to win but I feel like if we just continue to focus on what we did all week, which is defense, if we carry that over, we’ll be in a good position.”
Tipoff is scheduled for 5 pm.