After opening the season in stellar fashion, the Miami Heat haven’t had much success over the past two weeks. It won’t get any easier with a difficult four-game road trip set to begin.
The Heat try to avoid losing for the sixth time in eight games Tuesday night when they visit the Portland Trail Blazers, who are seeking a fifth straight win in the series.
Miami (9-7) won seven of its first nine games to give it the second-best record in the Eastern Conference, but has gone 2-5 since to drop four games back of Southeast Division-leading Orlando.
The Heat are coming off Sunday’s 92-85 loss to Boston, their second in a row. Miami led by five with nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, but missed nine of 11 shots the rest of the way.
“We were right there,” Dwyane Wade(notes) said. “The seasoned team, the veteran team made the plays they had to make at the end. They made the shots we had to make. We had good shots. We just didn’t make them.”
Wade finished with 27 points on 11-of-23 shooting, but the Heat went 2 of 15 from 3-point range. The disappointing offensive outing came two days after the Miami went 6 for 26 from beyond the arc in a 94-84 loss to Washington.
Miami now faces a Portland team that is allowing an average of 89.0 points, second lowest in the NBA.
The Heat have lost four in a row to the Trail Blazers, and the last meeting at the Rose Garden went particularly poorly. Miami shot 34.5 percent from the field and fell 106-68 on Nov. 26, 2008.
Wade finished with 12 points, his lowest output since the start of last season.
The Trail Blazers (12-7) have won six of seven at the Rose Garden, the first of many tough arenas Miami will visit on this trip.
The Heat play Northwest Division-leading Denver on Thursday and the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday before wrapping up the swing Sunday against Sacramento, which is 7-2 at home.
Although the Blazers are known for their sound defense, they weren’t particularly sharp in a 108-92 loss to Utah on Saturday, allowing the Jazz to shoot an opponent season-high 60.6 percent.
The loss was the second in as many nights for Portland, which fell 106-96 to Memphis on Friday.
The Blazers probably won’t be caught in another up-tempo game, as the Heat don’t consistently push the ball up the court.
Jerryd Bayless(notes) stepped up with an encouraging performance against the Jazz. The second-year guard finished with 14 points in 22 minutes, both season highs, after averaging 4.1 points in his first 11 games.