Wayne Ellington’s hot shooting not enough as Miami Heat fall to Blazers

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 13: Wayne Ellington
MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 13: Wayne Ellington /

Wayne Ellington was on fire Wednesday night, but even that wasn’t enough for the Miami Heat, as they fell short to the Portland Trail Blazers.

Heading into this season riding lofty expectations, the Miami Heat have hardly resembled an Eastern Conference contender thus far. While they’ve experienced several highs, these opening 27 games have also brought upon several lows, another which manifested itself on Wednesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Despite 24 points and a season-high seven 3-pointers from Wayne Ellington, the Heat, who were once again without Hassan Whiteside, were unable to overcome the Portland Trail Blazers in front of their home crowd, falling 102-95.

Dion Waiters scored 17 points and rookie center Bam Adebayo tallied 12 points and seven rebounds, as Miami now finds itself one game below .500, 5-7 at home on the year.

In a matchup in which the Heat had seven players reach double figures in scoring, they were unable to hold on to what was once a 16-point second half. They were also without both Tyler Johnson and Justise Winslow from the second period on, something that Ellington feels greatly affected Miami’s chances.

"“It’s tough, those guys are major pieces for what we do,” Ellington said. “These ones are tough to swallow.”"

C.J. McCollum led Portland with 28 points and Damian Lillard recorded seven of his 18 points during the game’s final 3:16.

Miami would jump out to a quick lead in the early going, finding itself up 16-8 during the game’s sixth minute. Both Ellington and Josh Richardson were stellar in the first, recording 15 and 11 first quarter points respectively, to give the Heat a 33-21 advantage heading into the second period.

Ellington’s onslaught would only continue from there. At one point during the first half, he had made seven consecutive field goals, including six from beyond-the-arc. His sixth 3-pointer with 7:34 to play in the half, sent the home crowd into a frenzy, and it looked as if Miami was going to cruise to another home victory.

Then the Blazers slowly began to chip into Miami’s lead, and before anybody knew it, a 43-27 advantage quickly evaporated into a 43-35 edge.

Despite that, the Heat were able to regather themselves and head into the locker room with a 10-point lead. Their offensive momentum seemed to abandon them during the intermission however, and they suffered greatly because of it.

After putting up 60 combined points in the first half, Miami managed just 19 points during the third period. It was the first time span in which they had been outscored all night, albeit by just one point.

Up 79-70 heading into the fourth, that’s when the wheels effectively flew off the train.

The Trail Blazers came out of the timeout with guns blazing to begin the final period, using a 16-7 run over the quarter’s opening five minutes to tie the game at 86.

Ellington and Adebayo attempted to keep Miami afloat, but by then it was too late. Lillard recorded nine total points in the quarter as the Heat were outscored 32-16 during that span.

"“You’re not guaranteed when you’re up that you’re going to be up 15,” head coach Erik Spoelstra said. “They executed and made plays down the stretch.”"

With the All-Star break rapidly approaching, the Heat look like a team that is struggling mightily to find its way without its star center. For the time being, Spoelstra has his sights set on the task at hand, and feels that Miami had plenty of chances to come away with a victory.

"“We had opportunities. We didn’t get quite the shots that we wanted to.”"

Next: Slowly but surely, team is playing Miami Heat Basketball again

So much for taking advantage of the start of a so-called easier schedule.