MIAMI — Forward Chris Bosh backed up his critical words from two nights earlier, when he said his Miami Heat team lacked passion and wasn’t communicating.
Heat forward LeBron James and coach Erik Spoelstra enjoyed a rare and spirited chest bump.
Together, the Heat, who entered Monday night in a 4-7 slump uncharacteristic of the two-time defending NBA champions, held off a furious rally by the Portland Trail Blazers, winning 93-91 Monday at AmericanAirlines Arena.
James, playing despite a sore back and an ankle injury, led all scorers with 32 points, including the game-winning layup with 11 seconds left. He scored going to his left, beating Portland center Robin Lopez.
Of his enthusiastic second-quarter chest bump with his coach, James said: “We needed some life. That’s what it’s about — showing emotion.”
Bosh added 15 points and the game-saving block on Blazers guard Damian Lillard, who drove to the basket in the final two seconds, looking to tie the score.
“If you are going to go out there and put it on your shoulders, you have to go out and make those plays,” Spoelstra said of Bosh. “And he did.”
Portland guard Wesley Matthews was less impressed.
“Whatever,” he said. “He made a good play. We still should have won.”
Portland coach Terry Stotts had two timeouts left but opted not to use one after James’ basket.
“Make or miss, we were going to go,” Stotts said. “We had been scoring in flow. I thought we could create something like we had in previous possessions.”
The Heat saw a 17-point, fourth-quarter lead shrink to two with 44 seconds left after a 3-pointer by Portland forward Nicolas Batum. Portland tied the score at 91 with 30 seconds left on two free throws by guard Mo Williams.
That set up the heroics by James and Bosh.
Coupled with the Pacers’ loss to the Chicago Bulls on Monday, Miami (48-21) is just one game behind Indiana in the loss column. The Heat plays at Indiana on Wednesday.
Miami, which is 28-6 at home, also got 13 points and 11 rebounds off the bench from forward Chris “Birdman” Andersen.
Portland (45-26) lost for the seventh time in 11 games. The Blazers are 1-5 in their past six road games.
Lillard led Portland with 19 points and six assists. Williams scored 17, and Matthews added 15.
Miami received a scare with 7:26 left in the first quarter when point guard Mario Chalmers limped off the court. He appeared to have sprained his right knee while making a layup, but Chalmers returned in the second quarter.
Portland led 25-22 after the first quarter, holding the usually efficient-shooting Heat to 38.5 percent shooting from the floor. Aside from James’ nine points, no other Heat player had more than five.
Miami surged ahead and led 46-42 at halftime. The Heat still did not shoot up to their standards — just 43.5 percent for the second quarter — but James continued to carry the team.
James had 17 points at the half, including five dunks, and the Heat outscored the Blazers 30-12 in the paint before the break. For the game, Miami doubled Portland on inside scoring, 52-26.
Miami stretched its lead to 72-61 after three quarters.
“I’m proud of how we battled back into the game,” Stotts said. “It was a frustrating night on offense. We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well (37.8 percent from the floor).
“Miami’s a good team. Their defense was good, but I thought we missed a lot of open shots.”
The Heat made 44 percent of its shots overall.
NOTES: Heat SG Dwyane Wade sat out due to an ankle injury. It is the 19th game he missed this season. The Heat are 12-7 without him. … Blazers F LaMarcus Aldridge missed his sixth straight game due to a back injury. However, he went through extensive shooting drills Saturday, and he may be nearing a return. … Heat C Greg Oden made his fifth start of the season, getting the nod to open against his former team. Miami is 5-0 in his starts this season. … Heat G Toney Douglas made his sixth start of the season. … Heat F Shane Battier, who started 52 games this season, is now coming off the bench due to a recent slump. He has not scored in double figures since Feb. 5. … Up next, Portland plays the Magic in Orlando on Tuesday. It is the third of a five-game road trip.
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