It was a first for Mario Chalmers.
Never before in his career could he recall sitting out an entire fourth quarter then entering the game for the last play and attempting a potential game-winner. It happened on Thursday at the Rose Garden. Chalmers missed the shot.
Chalmers’ wide-open three-point attempt caromed clumsily off the rim at the buzzer and the Trail Blazers, one of the surprise teams of the NBA this season, defeated the Heat 92-90. The Heat (23-11) blew a 12-point fourth-quarter lead.
Portland (20-15), the hometown of Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, leads the all-time series against the Heat 33-15 but Thursday was the Trail Blazers’ first home victory against Miami since the Heat signed LeBron James.
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On the game’s final play, James, who finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, dribbled at the top of the key with time running down before bolting to the basket. The drive collapsed the Trail Blazers’ defense and James turned in midair and found Chris Bosh wide open. Bosh, who hit his final seven shots of the game, turned down the open look and instead deferred to Chalmers, who had just entered the game for Udonis Haslem.
“He hits that shot nine times out of 10,” Bosh said.
Chalmers was subbed out of the game with 3:54 left in the third quarter before entering for the final play.
“I’ve never been in that situation,” Chalmers said. “It’s hard, sitting the last three minutes of the third, the whole fourth and then coming in in the last 10 seconds, but it’s one of those moments where you got to be ready.”
The Heat trailed 91-90 when Ray Allen missed a wide-open three-point attempt with 12.9 seconds left. Allen made 1 of 2 free throws to give the Heat a three-point lead with 1:05 remaining. Portland tied the game on its next possession when Wesley Matthews knocked down an equally wide-open three-pointer.
Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum, who had 28 points, found Matthews with a drive and kick. Spoelstra called the play a defensive breakdown. The Heat’s defense, sucked in by Batum, left Matthews open in the corner.
Matthews next three-pointer was simply a great shot.
A dunk by Bosh on an assist from James gave the Heat a one-point lead with 43.9 seconds left. Matthews answered with another three-pointer, this time from the opposite corner. Ray Allen provided ample pressure on the contest but Matthews was not fazed.
“We play hard every possession,” Matthews said. “We’ve got that taste of winning.”
The Heat has tasted nothing but defeat on its current road trip. Miami (7-8 on the road overall this season) has lost two in a row and is 3-5 in its last eight games.
“We played good enough to win,” James said. “You give your hats off to them…they made enough plays.”
The Heat held Portland to 37.5 percent shooting and tied the Trail Blazers in rebounding, 45-45. Normally, those numbers are more than enough for a victory, especially considering the Heat has had the best offense in the NBA to begin the season.
But James and Dwyane Wade were both off, combining to shoot 12 of 34 from the field. Bosh had the hot hand, 13 of 18 for 29 points, but it wasn’t enough. Ray Allen had 15 points off the bench.
“Trying not to let it linger—that’s the biggest challenge,” Bosh said. “Win or lose, we knew it wasn’t going to turn around today. It takes a while. We just have to really dissect this game and see what we could have done better on offense and defense and just get ready for the next one.”