LeBron James drove into the paint for the game-winning bucket and Chris Bosh sealed the victory by blocking Damian Lillard on the other end, as the Heat defeated the Blazers 93-91 in Miami on Monday.
Both James and Bosh have been pushing buttons with their comments in the media as of late, and both delivered when it mattered in this one.
"If you talk it, you back it up," James said, according to the Associated Press. "That's what it's about. We have guys in here that will deliver the words and then go back it up. That was big-time on [Bosh's] part."
With less than 20 seconds remaining and the score tied at 91, James milked the clock at the top of the arc as he worked against Damian Lillard. Going left to use a pick and turn the corner, James employed an inside-out dribble to freeze Robin Lopez before powering towards the hoop. Wary of committing a foul, Lopez backed off, allowing the four-time MVP to finish a lefty layup in the basket area with just 11.4 seconds left in regulation.
Down two and with two timeouts, Portland elected to immediately proceed up the court. Nicolas Batum dribbled to take a few seconds off the clock before there appeared to be some miscommunication, as both Lillard and Wesley Matthews came towards the ball out top. Lillard ultimately took possession and dribbled hard to his left, hoping to loft an off-foot floater over the defense. Bosh extended just high enough to get a piece of the shot, and Portland was unable to get another clean look before time expired.
''I thought I had a pretty good look at it but Chris Bosh made a great play,'' Lillard said, according to the AP. "He met it at the top. He went up and got it. I saw him - that's why I floated it. I didn't think he would be able to get to it. But he met it at the very top.''
Prior to Monday's game, both James and Bosh made it clear that the two-time defending champions needed to show better effort and execution.
"We all need to get on the same page and figure it out," James said, according to the Sun-Sentinel. "I don't know what we're going to do, but we have to figure this out. There's too many excuses. Everything is an excuse. Something goes wrong? An excuse. Lineup change? An excuse. Turn the ball over? An excuse. We need to own what we're doing right now, and what we're doing right now isn't good enough."
The Miami Herald reported that Bosh added: "I figure I'll be the first one to say we suck and we need to turn it around and if we don't turn it around, we'll be watching the championship at home."
The win -- coupled with an Indiana loss to Chicago on Monday -- moved Miami to just two games back in the race for the East's No. 1 seed.
As The Point Forward noted last week, the Heat still have a good chance at claiming the conference's top spot, despite a 4-7 stretch entering the game against Portland. The Heat could close the gap to one game if they defeat the Pacers in Indiana on Wednesday.
James finished with a game-high 32 points (on 13-for-23 shooting), six rebounds, five assists and four steals. Bosh added 15 points (on 5-for-10 shooting), eight rebounds, four steals and his one big block. Dwyane Wade was out for Miami with an ankle injury.
Lillard led the Blazers with a team-high 19 points (on 3-for-15 shooting), six assists, four rebounds and two steals. Mo Williams
added 17 points (on 5-for-12 shooting), two rebounds and one assist off the bench. Portland, who was without LaMarcus Aldridge
because of a back injury, dropped to 45-26 with their second straight loss.