Damian Lillard's Clutch Free-Throws Help Blazers Complete Comeback vs. Heat

Jenna CiccotelliAnalyst IIMarch 26, 2021

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) looks for space between Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro (14) and guard Kendrick Nunn (25) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, March 25, 2021, in Miami. (AP Photo/Jim Rassol)
Jim Rassol/Associated Press

The Portland Trail Blazers got back in the win column Thursday, defeating the Miami Heat 125-122 and snapping a two-game skid.

CJ McCollum's 29-point first half got things going for Portland, but a back-and-forth game that saw 22 lead changes concluded with three free throws from Damian Lillard to get the Trailblazers in the win column and  to 26-18 on the season. 

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Dame won the game at the FT line in a wild finish 👀 https://t.co/EaRyA6DNG0

For the 22-23 Miami Heat, who have now lost five consecutive games, Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo both dropped 29 points.  


Notable Performers

  • CJ McCollum, Trail Blazers: 35 PTS, 8 AST
  • Bam Adebayo, Heat: 29 PTS, 8 AST
  • Tyler Herro, Heat: 29 PTS, 9 REB, 7 AST
  • Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers: 22 PTS, 9 AST

No Jimmy Butler, No Problem for Versatile Heat

With Jimmy Butler sidelined for the first time in several weeks because of an illness, the Heat would have to find versatility elsewhere in the roster to replace their leading scorer, who is averaging 21.3 points per game. But there was little hesitation from the rest of the roster in stepping up to fill the void. 

The Heat let the Trail Blazers get away with a 10-2 lead early, but they built back by highlighting their depth in the first half.

While the Blazers were led by McCollum's monstrous first-half performance, he was the only Portland player to score in double-digits before the break. Comparatively, the Heat had options.

Bam Adebayo led with 15 points in 15 minutes on six-of-nine shooting, while Tyler Herro posted 12 points off of the bench. Kendrick Nunn posted 11 points. 

Ira Winderman @IraHeatBeat

This is the Bam Adebayo you want (need) to see with Jimmy Butler out.

Miami HEAT @MiamiHEAT

Bam going up for his nightly poster 👀 https://t.co/IoFedmVOir


The third quarter continued to have a back-and-forth nature, but the Heat finally pulled away when they went on a 11-0 run thanks to four three-point shots on consecutive possessions—two of which were logged by Herro—to make it 110-100. 

Miami HEAT @MiamiHEAT

Tyler's starting to feel it 👌👌👌 https://t.co/zzRtItEIor


But that run was immediately answered by Portland. 

In the end, it was free throws that gave Portland the win, but the near-win showed what the Heat are capable of—and that's without Butler and Victor Oladipo, who will join them after being dealt to the group from Houston earlier in the day. 


McCollum's Fast Start Sets the Tone 

McCollum made up for lost time.

After hitting just 26.3 percent of his field goal attempts against the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday and scoring 13 points two days earlier, he got off to a hot start in Miami.

On Thursday, McCollum led Portland to the lead early, as he was credited with eight of Portland's first 10 points as they broke open to a 10-2 lead.

House of Highlights @HoHighlights

TYLER HERRO FROM DEEP. 🔥😤 https://t.co/N3h2VAviTL


McCollum ended the first quarter with 21 points of the Trail Blazers' 31 points and went into halftime with 29 on 11-of-13 shooting, including six-of-eight from deep. 

He didn't have as much help behind him, with Cole Anthony the team's next leading scorer with nine points off of the bench, while Damian Lillard struggled to find the net until there was 6:43 left in the half. He ended the first half with eight points on 3-of-11 shooting. 

In the second half, McCollum was limited to just six more points, but he had Lillard, who finally broke it open with a 14-point second half, to pick up the slack.

The Heat started to pull away midway through the fourth quarter, but after they had their fun on a an 11-0 run, it was Portland's turn to break it open and take the lead back on a 13-0 run, led by a combination of Lillard and Kanter.

But it wasn't enough for the Heat to hold on, and Lillard was the hero with three sunken free throws at the end. 

What's Next? 

Both teams are back in action at 8 p.m. Friday.

Portland Trail Blazers @trailblazers

give it to the 🔥 hot 🔥 hand https://t.co/2wUjhNtaEO

The Trail Blazers will stay in Florida, where they'll face the Orlando Magic, while the Heat are headed to Charlotte to face the Hornets in a crucial conference matchup.  


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