Aldridge, Blazers' bench roll Heat, 105-96

By Tim Reynolds

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, March 8 2011 12:00 a.m. MST

MIAMI — Erik Spoelstra vowed to keep the Miami Heat fighting. Chris Bosh acknowledged he needs to do more and lobbied to get more opportunities. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade insisted their confidence remains high.

The Heat script hasn't changed much lately.

Nor have the results, as Miami's freefall continues.

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 26 points, Gerald Wallace scored 22 — easily his best game since joining Portland last month — and the Trail Blazers survived a 38-point effort by Wade in beating the Heat 105-96 on Tuesday night, sending Miami to its fifth straight loss overall and sixth in eight games since the All-Star break.

"We needed that win," Blazers guard Andre Miller said. "I tried to bring some energy down the stretch. It could have easily went the other way. It was back and forth a little bit, but we were able to make some big plays."

Wade didn't have the only big night for Miami. James finished with 31 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists for the Heat, who are the 12th team in NBA history to have a 12-game winning streak and five-game losing streak in the same season.

"How do we explain it? We can't," James said. "This isn't rock bottom for us. Crazy thing is, we could lose every game and still make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference."

After Wade and James, help was fleeting. Mario Chalmers scored 10, and Bosh was held to seven points on 3 for 11 shooting.

"Certainly not easy right now and frankly, we don't have a lot of answers on how to get over this hump. The only thing we can do is keep on grinding and not ... let ... go ... of ... the ... rope," Spoelstra said, pausing between those last words for emphasis. "These are heartbreaking losses. Guys are putting everything they have into them."

Miller and Brandon Roy each scored 14 for the Blazers, who won their seventh straight on the road and fourth straight overall. Nicolas Batum scored 11 and Wesley Matthews added 10 for Portland.

"Tonight, it wasn't about Miami as opposed to the challenge was to ourselves," Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. "Miami is a very good team. We knew that they would come out with a sense of urgency. It was a challenge for us. We knew that if we want to become one of those elite teams we have to go out and play."

The Blazers' bench outscored Miami's 41-8, easily enough to keep Miami's doldrums going strong.

"There's guys on the bench who can help us," Wade said.

And it gets no easier for the Heat: The two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, now winners of a league-high eight straight, come in on Thursday night.

In Atlanta, where the Lakers won on Tuesday, Kobe Bryant was predicting that Miami would be ready for the champs.

"It's a perfect set-up for them to get back on track," Bryant said. "They have no options but to fight, but to play their hearts out. This is going to be a big challenge for us. ... They've lost five games in a row now and they're looking at this game as being the game that turns this around."

There were moments on Tuesday when it looked as if this game would be the turnaround.

Portland wasn't going to let that happen. Whenever Miami tried making any sort of run, the Blazers had an answer.

They clamped down defensively on everybody but Wade and James, and there was a 9½-minute stretch of the second half where no one in a Heat jersey besides Wade scored.

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