After a busy trade deadline day for both the Trail Blazers and Heat, the two squared off from American Airlines Center.
Both teams were looking to snap losing streaks.
But it was CJ McCollum’s night in Portland’s 125-122 victory on the road.
And it was Damian Lillard's fourth quarter.
Scoring inside and out, McCollum led all scorers with 21 points in the first quarter, a season-high for a quarter.
Portland took a 31-24 lead after the first 12 minutes against the shorthanded Heat, a mix of seasoned veterans and several young guns.
Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro led the charge for Miami to claw back in the game, but with the Blazers shooting 47.8 percent from the field in the first half thanks to McCollum’s big first half coupled with the Blazers getting stops at the end of the second quarter, Portland held a 59-58 lead at the break.
The Blazers bench stepped it up from behind the arc in the second half, yet it was Herro who knocked down the final three of the third quarter to beat the buzzer and to tie the game at 91.
After Herro and the Heat took a double digit lead mid-way through the fourth quarter thanks to their hot perimeter shooting, the Blazers came up with late-game stops. Portland reclaimed the lead 111-110 after going on a quick 11-0 run.
In the final seconds, Enes Kanter came up with clutch offensive rebounds to help the Blazers secure the victory.
With 13.2 seconds remaining, the initial go-ahead bucket from Derrick Jones Jr. was set up by McCollum with the Heat zeroing in on McCollum.
After taking a step-back three, just missed short, with 1.0 second left on the clock, Lillard was followed by his former teammate, Trevor Ariza.
Lillard calmly knocked down all three from the line.
Portland was also shorthanded Thursday night after a deal was made with Toronto that sent Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood to the Raptors for Norman Powell, while Jusuf Nurkic (right calf strain) and Zach Collins (left ankle stress fracture) remained out.
No Trent Jr. or Hood meant more minutes for Nassir Little and Anfernee Simons.
The Heat had just nine players available.
Miami was without Avery Bradley (trade pending), Jimmy Butler (illness), Goran Dragic (lower back), Moe Harkless (trade pending), Udonis Haslem (health and safety protocols), KZ Okpala (health & safety protocols), Kelly Olynyk (trade pending) and Chris Silva (trade pending).
CJ McCollum hit his first six shots. He was scoring from all over the court after he quickly found his rhythm. After shooting 8-of-10 from the field in the first quarter, McCollum finished the game 14-for-25 to notch 35 points.
McCollum scored in a variety of ways, which was necessary after Damian Lillard’s slow start. But as the Blazers backcourt duo often say of each other, if one of them is hot, they will keep feeding that person, while also trying to get the other one going. Lillard finished with 22 points after coming on strong late.
In the second half, when McCollum drew two defenders, he set up his teammates. He added eight assists on the night.
The Blazers kept the game close. Anytime it looked like the Heat were going to run away with it, Portland would go on a run of its own.
Enes Kanter completed a couple of old fashioned three-point plays to help keep the Blazers in the game, while also giving Portland second chance opportunities late in the game.
When McCollum went to the bench, the Blazers struggled to find scoring.
Miami went on a 17-7 run to start the second quarter. The Heat also got out and ran.
The Heat were riding a four-game losing streak heading into Thursday’s game after struggling offensively. But, Miami got their groove back at the end of the floor in the second quarter, outscoring Portland, 34-28.
The Blazers weren’t able to slow down the efficient shooting from the short-handed Heat, particularly Kendrick Nunn on the wing. He added 22 points. As a team, Miami shot 56.0 percent for the game and 47.1 percent from three.
Bam Adebayo showed off his shot blocking ability. He also led the Heat in scoring. The Heat starting center finished with 29 points, nine rebounds and five blocks.
CJ McCollum shot 11-of-13 from the field, including 6-of-8 in 17 first-half-minutes to record 29 points.
Next up: The Trail Blazers continue their four-game road trip in Orlando Friday. The Blazers and Magic are scheduled to tip-off at 5:00 p.m. PST on NBCSNW, the official network of the Portland Trail Blazers.