April 15, 2014

A matchup with one of the Eastern Conference's better teams resulted in one of the Miami Heat's poorer defensive performances.

Facing one of the West's lesser clubs could help them bounce back.

The Heat look to maintain their recent success in interconference games in Sunday's matchup with a Portland Trail Blazers team that's struggled badly against the East.

Miami (15-10) was denied its first four-game win streak of the post-LeBron James era in Friday's 108-94 home loss to Toronto. The Atlantic Division-leading Raptors shot 63.9 percent in the second half to overcome an 11-point third-quarter deficit, and their 51.3 percent field-goal rate was the second-highest by a Heat opponent this season.

"A team can beat you but they have to beat you at your best. And we weren't even close to our best tonight," said Chris Bosh after losing to his former team for the first time in 13 career meetings in which he's played.

Portland (11-17) represents a good opportunity for the Heat to get back on track. The Trail Blazers have lost 11 of 12 to East teams dating back to last season and eight straight on the road, where they've dropped 10 of 13 overall.

The Blazers fell to 1-7 against the East this season and 0-2 on a five-game trip with Friday's 102-94 defeat to Orlando. They were hurt by 19 turnovers that the Magic converted into 23 points.

''Turnovers come in bunches for us,'' coach Terry Stotts said. ''... Some of it was our fault, some was the defense, but we have to do a better job of understanding the game and not compounding one mistake with another.''

Portland is committing 16.5 turnovers per game on the road, fourth-worst in the league.

Another season-long weakness has been inside scoring, and the Blazers were outscored 52-18 in the paint Friday.

"We are a perimeter shooting team. I'm really not concerned about our points in the paint," Stotts said. "When we can get there, I want to get there. I'm more concerned about defensively giving up that many."

Portland draws another potentially bad matchup Sunday, as the Heat have been among the league's best at defending the 3-point shot at 31.4 percent. The Blazers are 1-7 when held under that mark.

Plus, Miami is 7-1 versus the West and has won 11 of 13 interconference games at home since March.

The Heat recorded their third straight home victory over the Trail Blazers with a 108-104 win March 18, receiving 32 points from Dwyane Wade and 24 from Luol Deng.

Wade had 21 points against Toronto and sixth man Gerald Green added 20 while going 5 of 10 on 3s. Green has averaged 17.3 points over his last four to give a needed spark to a bench that ranks 28th in the NBA in scoring (26.3 points per game).

Portland continues to rely heavily on its backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Whereas McCollum had 27 points Friday and is averaging 23.2 in the last six games while going 20 of 40 from 3, Lillard has shot 28.6 percent on the road trip and was 4 of 15 from the field with six turnovers Friday.

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