Dwyane Wade(notes) is dealing with back and wrist problems as he tries to continue another high-scoring start, but his Miami Heat are feeling good after a resounding victory over one of the Eastern Conference’s top contenders.
Wade is expected to play through his injuries as the Heat go for a third straight victory on Sunday, while the visiting Portland Trail Blazers will be trying to reverse a troubling trend of road defeats.
A sore right wrist didn’t stop Wade from scoring 25 points with seven assists before sitting out the fourth quarter of a 104-86 blowout win over Orlando on Thursday night, but the NBA’s leading scorer in 2008-09 added upper back spasms to his list of problems after they limited him in practice on Saturday.
His scoring average is down this season, but Wade still ranks fifth in the league with 26.6 points per game. He’s also gotten more help from teammate Michael Beasley(notes), the No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 draft who is showing improvement in his second season.
Beasley is averaging 25.0 points in his last two games, both Miami victories. The team shot 51.9 percent against the Magic and led by 29 after three quarters.
“I think if we continue to play with this focus, play with this energy, we’ll be a pretty tough team to beat,” Beasley said.
Miami (13-11) also cruised past Toronto 115-95 on Tuesday, responding to a pair of team meetings that followed last Sunday’s 28-point loss to Memphis - its fourth straight home defeat.
Beasley shot 2 of 11 from the field and scored a season-low six points against the Grizzlies.
“It’s been a good week for us to grow and that’s part of the development of this team,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “In the NBA, that’s sometimes what you have to do is sequester yourself when you have adversity. There’s so many things.”
It likely won’t help that Portland (16-12) will be playing fewer than 24 hours after Saturday’s 92-83 loss at Orlando, its seventh defeat in their last eight road games. The Blazers’ road trip likely won’t get much easier, as they visit Dallas and San Antonio after Miami.
Only seven Portland players logged more than 10 minutes against the Magic as Brandon Roy(notes) continues to carry a heavy load. Roy scored 33 points while playing at least 42 minutes for the fourth straight game.
The Blazers likely need more from LaMarcus Aldridge(notes), who had season lows in points (three) and rebounds (one) despite playing 31 minutes. Portland’s starting frontcourt of Aldridge, Martell Webster(notes) and Joel Przybilla(notes) combined for just nine points and 18 rebounds as the Magic held a 54-35 edge on the boards.
“It felt like a winnable game, but Orlando made the plays in the fourth quarter and got the stops they needed,” Roy said. “LaMarcus is a big part of what we do and we couldn’t get him going.”
Aldridge was injured and missed the Blazers’ first meeting with the Heat, a 107-100 Miami victory in Portland on Dec. 1. Beasley scored 27 points in that game, leading the Heat as they snapped a four-game losing streak to the Blazers.