"I thought it was a good effort by our team," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. "Miami's one of the best if not the best team in the league right now and they are playing at a high level. We matched it for about 44 minutes."
More than matched it for a while, too.
Aldridge went on a personal 13-0 run over a stretch of nearly four minutes midway through the half, single-handedly seeming to turn what was a 29-24 Portland deficit into a 37-29 Portland lead. And another quick burst, this time a 10-1 run by the Blazers, gave the visitors what was their biggest lead, 57-43 with 4:48 left in the half.
Take away Miami's sizzling start, and the Blazers outscored the Heat 52-29 over a huge swath of the first half. Of course, by the break, everything looked just about even. James scored 10 points in a 15-2 Miami run to end the half, and the Blazers' lead was down to a single point at intermission.
It wound up as a 34-12 run by the Heat in all, as Miami rebuilt what became a 14-point lead midway through third.
Predictably, the Blazers came back. Lillard scored nine points in the final 4:36 of the third, and the Miami lead was down to 86-82 entering the fourth after James waited too long to shoot a beat-the-clock 30-footer that went in anyway.
But down the stretch, it was all Miami.
"I thought one of the biggest differences were the 50-50 balls," Lillard said. "A few went their way. And they made us pay."
NOTES: It was the 25th time Lillard scored more than 20 points this season, adding to his rookie-of-the-year credentials. ... Aldridge has at least 11 field goals in each of his past five games. ... The Heat were without Mike Miller, the latest victim of the flu bug that has ripped through the locker room, and lost starting forward Udonis Haslem to a lower-leg contusion in the opening quarter. X-rays on Haslem's shin were negative.
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