So on this night the ball ended up in the hands of Mario Chalmers instead of one of their four future Hall of Famers.
Chalmers missed a 3-pointer as time expired in the Heat’s 92-90 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers Thursday at Rose Garden. It was the third loss in four games for Miami, which has dropped the first two of this six-game trip. The Heat are now 7-8 on the road.
“It’s a tough loss, there’s not doubt about it,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Our guys are definitely disappointed about that. Seven minutes to go, we think we’re taking control of the game in the fourth quarter and gaining some confidence in our defense and we just slipped a little bit.”
Center Chris Bosh led the Heat with 29 points on 13 of 18 shooting while guard Dwyane Wade scored 18. LeBron James finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, ending his streak of 20-point games at 54.
“We played good enough to win,” James said. “You give your hats off to them …They made enough plays.”
It appeared this one would never come down to a final shot when the Heat built a 12-point lead with 7 minutes, 54 seconds remaining after Wade made two free throws. That is when things changed for Miami.
The Trail Blazers came back behind Nicolas Batum (28 points), LaMarcus Aldridge (20) and Wesley Matthews (18). They responded with a 14-2 run during the next three minutes, tying the score at 82 on Batum’s 3-point play. It set the stage for the wild finish. Portland, which trailed by 13 at halftime, took its first lead of the second half when Matthews hit a 3-pointer to put his team ahead 91-90 with 26.9 seconds left.
It was the second key basket in the final minute for Matthews, who on the previous possession hit a 3-pointer to tie it at 88.
“They made big shots at the end, Wes Matthews, obviously, with those two 3s,” Wade said. “We gave ourselves a chance. We had it and they took it from us at the end.”
As they have so many times in these situations this season, the Heat turned to Ray Allen. James found an open Allen at the 3-point line, but the shot missed. After grabbing the rebound, Aldridge made one of two free throws that allowed the Heat to remain within a basket.
Chalmers was an unlikely target for the last shot. He had been on the bench since the 3:55 mark of the third quarter before entering with 10.2 seconds remaining. He became the last hope when James passed to Bosh, who had a good look from to the top of the key.
Bosh instead went to an unguarded Chalmers.
“What I like about that is there was some poise and patience and not a panic,” Spoelstra said. “We’ve come a long way to work to get the best shot at the end of the game. It doesn’t matter who gets it. We’ll take those shots any day of the week.”
Bosh said there was no second-guessing the decision to pass even though he had made his last seven shots and briefly appeared open before Matthews closed in.
“I know people are very infatuated with the last-second shot and buzzer beaters,” Bosh said. “It’s real cool to hit a buzzer-beater, but it has to come at the right time. We got the right shot. It would have been a game-winning shot. Wide open 3, as opposed to a contested two. I’ll take that every time.”
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