The 324 Report (12/3/16 v. Miami)

Summary of the match: The Blazers beat the LeBron-less, Wade-less, Bosh-less Heat 99-92 in a game that wasn’t Wisconsin-Penn State so who really cares. The Blazers were their usual crap on defense in the first quarter, surrendering 29 points on 68% shooting for the offensively-challenged Heat. But they buckled down for the final three quarters, holding Miami to 44% shooting for the game. The Heat were well positioned to put it away late, leading 91-85 with 3 minutes left. But Portland ended on a 14-1 run to lock up a much-needed victory in advance of a pretty gnarly 5-game road trip.

How great was Moe Harkless?: Great. Decent all-around numbers, going for 17-7 on 6-12, 1-3. Five of his field goals were pretty standard Moe buckets (four in the paint, one 3-pointer). But the other was a pretty good sign of his ever-expanding game. He received a pass at the top of the key, squared up his defender, took two dribbles to his right around a screen, and hit a jumper from the elbow. I honestly can’t recall a play where he created his own shot in that way. He’s gotten to the rim in that manner before, but that off-the-dribble midrange game is new. If he can do that even once or twice per game, it really rounds out his offensive game well.

Was Evan Turner butt?: Not at all. Another really solid outing from ET off the bench that has us at the 324 Report considering whether this feature needs to be retired. He didn’t necessarily shoot it that well (3-10, 0-2) but he filled up the stat sheet (6 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals for a +11 overall) and impacted the game in many areas, including orchestrating some fast breaks that were critical given Portland poor shooting night (40%) and Miami’s generally outstanding half-court bus parking. It was a good overall night for the Blazer bench, outscoring Miami’s 31-14.

Other observations:

  • I missed literally the entire third quarter while jumping back and forth on the concourse between TVs showing the B1G Championship Game and the ACC Championship Game. Disappointing results in both but it’s all irrelevant because now that Washington is back we don’t even need to care about anything else.
  • Not stellar shooting nights for either Lillard (6-19, 2-6) or CJ (7-18, 1-5), but they both played big in crunch time (CJ: 7 points, Dame: 2 assists) to close out the win.
  • Terrific work from Allen Crabbe, who played well on offense (16 points, 4-6 from 3) but was generally pretty solid on D, being active and getting some deflections. He’s one of the biggest culprits of Portland’s bad defensive stretch, so seeing him impact the game positively on that end is encouraging.
  • Four very random Noah Vonleh minutes in the second quarter, who continues to prove that he’s probably unplayable.
  • Minimal Heat fan presence in the arena, so if you’re wondering how long it takes to fully drain the bandwagon, it’s about two years. There was a Miami fan sitting in front of me who sat pretty quietly the whole game and was born and raised in Miami. Shoutout to the Miami day ones.
  • Speaking of fans, it was a really solid lively crowd in the building for all 48 minutes.
  • Hassan Whiteside is an absolute load. 28 points (12-16), 16 rebounds, 5 blocks, showing he deserved every bit of his big new contract. But man, he was gasssssed at the end of the game. He played 41 minutes, including the entire 4th quarter. I’m sure Spo would get that one back if he could.
  • On the other end of the “Did he deserve his huge contract?” spectrum, Tyler Johnson was 3-14 from the field for a -27 in 34 minutes. Not one of Pat Riley’s shining decisions.
  • Miami’s starting lineup included Wayne Ellington and something called Rodney McGruder. And this is a team that isn’t tanking. It might be time to do so.

Whoopty do, what does it all mean, Basil?: Not a whole lot really, but they legitimately needed this win against a mediocre team before going on the road for a week and a half. The overall defensive effort and performance was encouraging, especially considering how the game started. Real talk, as a fan you want some of these down-to-the-wire type games when the building is alive and the nerves are wracked. Just to feel alive or whatever. This game satisfied that, if nothing else.

Next home game: 12/13/16 v. Russell Westbrook.

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