Portland Trail Blazers

Portland Trail Blazers

For the first time maybe since opening night, the Moda Center was roaring Saturday night as the Trail Blazers stormed back in the fourth quarter to steal a 99-92 victory over the Miami Heat. 

Led by its defense, which held Miami to one point over the Heat's final seven possessions, the Blazers outscored Miami 14-1 down the stretch to win for the third time in four games. It was the first consecutive wins for the Blazers (11-10) since Nov. 11 and Nov. 13 against Sacramento and Denver.

"Really pleased the way we finished the game,'' coach Terry Stotts said. "To hold them to one point over the last three minutes ... pretty impressive.''

Damian Lillard led the Blazers with 19 points, but CJ McCollum and Maurice Harkless were the late-game heroes while Allen Crabbe and Evan Turner played big roles off the bench. McCollum scored seven of his 17 points in the fourth quarter and Harkless had 17 points and seven rebounds, one of them a key offensive rebound with under 30 seconds left. 

Crabbe had 16 points off the bench, including four three pointers, and Turner had nine points, six rebounds and six assists. 

Miami took a 91-85  lead with 3:03 left when Hassan Whiteside tipped in a Goran Dragic miss. But Portland scraped its way back with a McCollum three, two free throws from  Harkless, a nifty left-handed shot by McCollum over Whiteside and after a tough defensive stop on Whiteside inside, Lillard found Harkless inside for a layin to give the Blazers the a 94-92 lead with 1:22 left.

 

Whiteside, the dominant Heat center who Portland pursued this offseason, finished with 28 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks. Dragic added 18 points for Miami (7-13), which played eight of its nine healthy players. The Heat lost one of those healthy players when James Johnson was ejected with 20 seconds left in the third quarter after collecting his second technical foul of the game. 

Portland started the fourth quarter with a 73-71 lead, but Miami scored the first six points as the Blazers missed their first three shots and had a turnover. The Heat held an 82-75 lead after Tyler Johnson hit a three-pointer, a shot that came after he missed 10 of his first 11 shots. 

The Blazers took a 55-49 halftime lead after trailing by as many as 12 in the first quarter. Defense keyed the surge, as Miami made 9-of-23 shots (39 percent) in the second quarter, which included 1-for-7 from three-point range. The Blazers also benefitted from three technical fouls called on Miami in the first half -- calls on Tyler Johnson, James Johnson and coach Erik Spoelstra -- that resulted in three Blazers points. 

Whiteside was a force in the first quarter, hitting all five of his shots and recording two emphatic blocks, helping Miami take a 29-21 lead. The Heat, which started its three game trip with wins in Denver and Utah, held the Blazers to 8-of-25 shooting in the opening quarter.

Next up: Blazers at Chicago, 5 p.m. Monday (CSN)

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