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Heat bludgeon Blazers 142-82 in most lopsided victory in franchise’s 36 seasons

MIAMI — The Portland Trail Blazers spent the 2023 offseason acting as if the Miami Heat didn’t exist, at least when it came to soliciting trade offers for since-dealt guard Damian Lillard.

Friday night at Kaseya Center, the Blazers could not deny the reality of the Heat very much taking care of business, with Erik Spoelstra’s team pounding Portland 142-82 — the most lopsided victory in the Heat’s 36 seasons.

“There was a professionalism  from our part and an energy and an intentionality,” Spoelstra said. “And that’s what we’re aiming for right now.

“Hopefully that becomes more who you are.”

Pushing their lead into the 40s by the early stages of the third period and later to a franchise-record 60, the Heat closed out an uneven 2-2 homestand that included losses to the New Orleans Pelicans and Golden Warriors and blowout victories over the Cleveland Cavaliers and Blazers.

Ultimately, it was a net neutral night for the Heat, with the Indiana Pacers’ home victory over the Los Angeles Lakers keeping the Heat at No. 7 in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

The magnitude of the rout left the Heat somewhat coming up short.

Center Bam Adebayo, for example, was pulled one assist shy of a triple-double when he was subbed out with 59 seconds left in the third quarter. He closed with 21 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.

Forward Jimmy Butler, back after a one-game absence, closed with eight points, only the second time this season he failed to score in double digits and the first time in a game he wasn’t injured (the other time was when he went out on Dec. 30 at Utah with a toe injury after scoring eight points in 24 minutes.

The Heat also got 22 points from Rozier, who shot 6 of 10 on 3-pointers, as well as 26 from Thomas Bryant and 20 from Haywood Highsmith.

“To win big like this, it feels good for the group,” Rozier said.

The previous franchise record for margin of victory had been 43 over the Los Angeles Clippers in 1994. Included in the victory were a franchise-record 41 assists.

Asked if he had ever been part of something so lopsided, Rozier said, “Maybe middle school. But at this level? Nah.”

About the only downside was starting power forward Nikola Jovic leaving in the third period with a knee contusion.

The Heat again were without Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson. The Blazers were without Anfernee Simons, Shaedon Sharpe, Jerami Grant, Malcolm Brogdon and Robert Williams.

“Everything started all getting bad at the same time,” Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said.

Next up for the Heat is a Sunday road game against the Washington Wizards, before a challenging stretch against the New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, Houston Rockets and Pacers.

“This is good momentum for us,” Bryant understated.

Five Degrees of Heat from Friday night’s game:

1. Game flow: The Heat led 29-19 at the end of the first period and 74-40 at halftime, the Heat’s highest-scoring first half of the season. The Heat’s 24 assists in the first half were the most in a first half in the Heat’s 36 seasons.

The Heat then went into the fourth quarter up 107-63, opening the period with an all-reserve unit of Jaime Jaquez Jr., Bryant, Highsmith, Delon Wright and Jamal Cain.

“That was encouraging to be able to see us sustain that,” Spoelstra said.

2. Adebayo attack: Even with Butler back after missing Tuesday night’s loss to the Warriors due to illness, Adebayo seized control for the Heat, up to 18 points, six rebounds and five assists by halftime, dominating his matchup against Deandre Ayton.

Adebayo also drained a second-quarter 3-pointer, making it at least one conversion in seven of his last eight appearances. He then made it 2 for 2, with a third-period conversion, as well. The lone shutout in that streak was when he sat out the fourth quarter of Sunday’s blowout victory over the Cavaliers.

Spoelstra said he gave Adebayo one final possession to try to get his 10th assist, with Patty Mills not cooperating on the scoring end.

“I told him you got one crack at it,” Spoelstra said. “Ultimately, we’re not playing for stats. And the way our season has gone, with all the injuries and missed games, I also have to be responsible as the head coach.”

3. Pass first: Still showing signs of the illness that kept him out Tuesday, Butler played in pass-first mode, with seven assists in his 15 first-half minutes, attempting just two shots.

Butler had five assists in the second period, when he did not attempt a shot in his 6:48.

Butler closed 2 of 4 from the field, including a 3-pointer, with eight assists and four rebounds in 24:50.

That the Heat could accomplish what they did without heavy lifting from Butler was particularly encouraging.

“I think we all want to build off of this,” Rozier said.

4. Haywood Makesmith: After going a perfect 7 of 7 on 3-pointers the previous two games, Highsmith’s streak ended when he missed his first 3-point attempt Friday. He promptly converted his next five.

Highsmith closed 7 of 9 from the field, including 5 of 6 on 3-pointers.

“It’s just me locking in and zoning in,all that work I put in over the summer,” Highsmith said. “I just was feeling it I guess.”

He said the focus was there after losing to the Warriors.

“We definitely wanted to come in here and bounce back off a loss,” he said.

5. No Love, yet: Available for the first time since Ayton fell on him in the teams’ Feb. 27 meeting in Portland, Kevin Love nonetheless missed his 15th consecutive game.

With Love having been away from the team this week due to personal reasons, Spoelstra said pregame it was unlikely Love would immediately fully return to his previous rotation role. Love was the lone available Heat player not to see action Friday.

Instead, Bryant continued at backup center, closing his initial nine-minute stint in place of Adebayo with 10 points and three rebounds. Bryant then kept going from there.

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