Relentless Miami Heat wear down, blow out Trail Blazers

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Portland came out with a real energy Thursday night — they were up for this one. Their All-Star, LaMarcus Aldridge, had a dozen first quarter points and the Blazers seemed to hit everything they put up. The Heat have been a juggernaut and for 12 minutes the Blazers matched it.

But the Heat are relentless. Dwyane Wade and LeBron James dominated this game, nearly outscoring Portland on their own in the first half. Miami’s bench players such as Udonis Haslem, Norris Cole and Mike Miller came in and the Heat keep pressing on defense, trying to run and attack every chance they get seemingly without pause. It wears teams down.

Led by Wade’s 12 second quarter points, the Heat pulled away in the second frame (outscoring Portland 28-18 in the second), eventually led by as much as 25 in the third and won 107-93. That is nine wins in a row for the Heat, all by double digits.

Wade had 22 points in the first half, James 19. That made the score at the break Trail Blazers 42, Wade and LeBron 41. Turns out the Heat have other guys on the team so the actual halftime score was 60-42. That was without Chris Bosh, who missed the game to be with family after the death of his grandmother.

While we’ve talked about LeBron in the post this season, it was Wade in the post in the first half and the Trail Blazers had no real defense for it. They had no real answer for the Heat in general.

Portland tried some zone — something that had some success early in the season — and the Heat destroyed it with penetration. But mostly it was the Heat’s defense — they were getting stops and turning the defense into offense all night.

LeBron finished with 38 points on 22 shots, plus 11 boards. Wade had 33 points on 23 shots, plus 10 assists.

When Miami is playing with this kind of energy, this kind of unity, putting that kind of pressure on opponents with their defense, there is not a team in the NBA that can beat them. They are finding a groove and really the only question is can they keep that groove going all the way to playoffs.

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook go head-to-head, literally (video)

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This sure didn’t look like just another game for Kevin Durant – and not only because the Thunder beat the Warriors for the first time since he left.

The 108-91 Oklahoma City victory didn’t look like just another game for Russell Westbrook (34 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and four steals), either.

Harrison Barnes banks in game-winning, buzzer-beating 3-pointer (video)

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With the shot clock off in the fourth quarter and the game tied, Grizzlies big JaMychal Green put back Tyreke Evans‘ miss with a clutch flush. There’s a very fine line between ensuring the last shot and leaving time for an offensive rebound, and Memphis threated it almost perfectly.

Emphasis on “almost.”

The Grizzlies left the Mavericks 0.5 seconds, which Harrison Barnes used to bank in a 3-pointer – off a pinpoint bounce pass by Dennis Smith Jr. – to give Dallas a 95-94 win.

Heat snap Celtics’ 16-game winning streak

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
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The Celtics didn’t have another comeback in them.

After overcoming a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Mavericks on Monday to extend its winning streak to 16 games, Boston lost to the Heat tonight, 104-98. The streak ends as the NBA’s longest since the Hawks won 19 straight during the 2014-15 season.

The Celtics trailed Miami by 16 in the fourth quarter then cut the deficit to only one with three minutes left. But Dion Waiters hit back-to-back 3-pointers, helping the Heat pull away.

Goran Dragic (27 points) and Waiters (26 points) led Miami, which needed a reason to feel good after losing three of four to fall to 7-9.

The Celtics, on the other hand, still have a four-game cushion over the rest of the Eastern Conference. This might help them regain focus.

Serge Ibaka gets dunked on by Enes Kanter, hit in face by ball (video)

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Is Enes Kanter mad Serge Ibaka rifted with his family?

(No, not this family. That family.)