PORTLAND, Ore. -- Heat coach Erik Spoelstra wanted to tie the game and send it into overtime. Chris Bosh said no and then went out and won it.
In the huddle moments before Bosh drilled a game-winning three-pointer to defeat the Trail Blazers 108-107, the Heat’s starting center vetoed his coach’s original play in what Bosh called a "very intense" moment. Spoelstra called for Bosh to take a two-pointer to tie, but Bosh changed the play in the huddle and told his coach, ‘I’m going for the jugular.’"
On Bosh’s game-winning play, Dwyane Wade received the side-out-of-bounds pass from Norris Cole and looped around the perimeter of the paint, essentially pulling LaMarcus Aldridge away from Bosh and leaving him open behind the three-point line. Of course, everyone is open from 28 feet. The official game box will dispute this, but Bosh was a good four feet behind the three-point arc when he received a behind-the-back pass from Wade with less than five seconds on the clock. Bosh gathered the ball and heaved a shot that arced so high and so long that Moda Center went still and quiet while the ball was in flight.
And then more silence.
"These are the kind of moments where you’ve got to trust each other," Bosh said. "I saw it. We had a similar play earlier and they were able to body up and I didn’t get what I wanted. I just told [Spoelstra], ‘I’m going for the jugular.’"
Spoelstra listened to Bosh’s suggestion, which was more like a command, and then agreed with the play.
"Why did I even diagram something else for him?" Spoelstra asked rhetorically after the game. "He already hit two threes. He was feeling it, he wanted it and I said, ‘Yeah, that makes sense.’ It was much better than what I had planned."
Of course, it helped that Wade momentarily bobbled the ball while driving to the basket. The change in Wade’s rhythm distracted Portland’s defenders just long enough for Wade to attempt a brazen pass with the game on the line. After the game, Wade called Bosh’s three-pointer "cold blooded."
It was a significant victory for the back-to-back champions. The Heat (23-7) was playing on the second night of a difficult back-to-back on a West Coast road trip, and without LeBron James, who missed the game with a strained right groin muscle. The Trail Blazers (24-6) were tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder for best record in the Western Conference entering Saturday night.
Spoelstra called Bosh a "prophet" after the game.
"I drew something up to get him on the move, and he said ‘No, I want it for the three. So, he overruled it and became a prophet," Spoelstra said.
Bosh’s three-pointer dropped with half a second left on the clock, which gave the Trail Blazers (24-6) one last attempt for the win. Considering Portland has been the league’s cardiac kids this season — now 7-2 in games decided by four points or less — half a second was more than long enough for coach Terry Stotts to draw up a legitimate option at the buzzer.
It was a great play call, but Aldridge missed the inbounds alley-oop attempt. Moments later, a small pocket of hysteria broke out on the court amid an arena full of dejected home fans.
James, strained groin muscle and all, rushed the court and started beating on Bosh with excitement. The entire team joined in before carrying the celebration into the locker room. For the traditional post-game "videobomb," James wrapped his coat around Bosh like he was Superman.
"Coming on the road, I think this was our first signature win of the year," Wade said. "Being down, without Bird, without L.J., with guys not having their best games. With me not having my best game. The guys found a way to stay close and to draw it up in that way, in a sense, and for C.B. to call it and say he wanted it and he shot it and he made it…Normally we’re reserved, but that one felt good."
Wade had his fair share of mistakes, but delivered a driving dunk with 26.9 seconds left to tie the game at 105-105. Seconds earlier, Wade fouled Nicolas Batum in the act of shooting a corner three-pointer. Batum made all three foul shots to tie the score.
Following Wade’s dunk, Batum was fouled by Ray Allen with 7.7 seconds remaining and made two more free throws to give the Trail Blazers a 107-105 lead.
Bosh finished with a season-high 37 points and went 15 of 26 from the field. He was 3 of 3 from three-point range and 4 of 4 from the free-throw line. He also had 10 rebounds and provided energetic defense against Aldridge, who finished with 22 points on 20 shots.
Wade had 16 points and Michael Beasley, who started for James, had 12 points and injured his knee during the second half. He returned to finish the game, but will be reevaluated on Sunday. The Heat spent the night in Portland following the game.
Mario Chalmers had nine points, nine rebounds and nine assists and Norris Cole scored 11 points off the bench. Rashard Lewis had 10 points and Ray Allen had nine.
Wesley Matthews led the Trail Blazers with 23 points. Robin Lopez had 17 points and Batum had 11 points to go along with six assists and nine rebounds. Guard Damian Lillard had 16 points and seven assists.