Trail Blazers No Match For Heat Defense

by Casey Holdahl
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PORTLAND -- After getting a win versus the Pistons Saturday night, the Portland Trail Blazers finished up a weekend back-to-back at the Moda Center with a 107-98 loss to the Miami Heat Sunday night.

Portland is now 31-22 overall, good for sixth-place in the Western Conference with 19 games to play, and 16-11 at home this season. With the loss, they split the season series with the Heat 1-1.

At first glance, the box score from Sunday’s game would seem to indicate a closer contest than one in which the visitors held a comfortable lead for the majority of the last three quarters and led by as many as 20 points in the process.

The Heat and Trail Blazers shot nearly the same percentage from the field, and while Portland shot a worse percentage from three, they only ended up with one less make from deep. They made the same number of free throws and handed out the same number of assists, and while Miami had six more points in the paint, they also had two fewer second-chance points.

But the difference, from the opening tip to the final buzzer, were turnovers. Portland started the game by turning the ball over on their first three possessions -- a harbinger of things to come -- and would go on to lose the ball in one way or another 14 more times for a total of 17 turnovers, nine more than the Heat.

And to make matters far, far worse, Portland didn’t just lose out on 17 possessions, they set the table for Miami’s offense. The Heat would convert Portland’s 12 first-half turnovers into 20 points, which helped turn what was a six-point first quarter lead for Portland into an eight-point deficit by the intermission.

The Heat would end up scoring nearly a third of their 98 points off of turnovers while the Trail Blazers managed just eight such points on seven turnovers. In a game in which many of the other facets were a wash, such a significant gap in turnovers -- which, to be fair, was due to the Heat being a vastly superior defensive unit than the Trail Blazers -- and points generated off of them was more than enough to tip the scales in Miami’s favor.

Both Norman Powell and CJ McCollum finished with 17 points. Damian Lillard took just 10 shots, making three, for 12 points in 36 minutes. Enes Kanter, one day removed for setting the franchise record for in both rebounds (30) and offensive rebounds (12) contributed 10 points and eight rebounds in 19 minutes off the bench.

Five Heat players finished in double figured led by 22 points from Bam Adebayo. Jimmy Butler, who sat out the last meeting, had 20 points and Kendrick Nunn added 15.

Next up, the Trail Blazers host the Celtics in the first meeting between the two teams this season. Tipoff is scheduled for Tuesday at 7 p.m.

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