Josh Hart’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer lifts Trail Blazers over Heat in early-season thriller
The Portland Trail Blazers‘ terrific start to the season continued on Monday night when Josh Hart hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give them a 110-107 victory over the Miami Heat. With the win the Blazers are now 7-3 on the season, just half a game behind the Western Conference-leading Utah Jazz.
Hart’s shot capped off a thrilling fourth-quarter comeback for the Blazers that featured a truly wild ending. The Blazers, who trailed by as much as 15 in the game, were still down by 10 with 5:50 remaining. Over the next three-plus minutes they embarked on an 18-8 run to tie game, and then things got even more entertaining.
There were five different lead changes over the final two minutes, starting with a layup by Jimmy Butler that put the Heat in front, 100-98. Down at the other end, Anfernee Simons had a response. The young guard sized up Kyle Lowry, broke out a series of dribbling moves and converted a tough and-one to put the Blazers back in front at 101-100.
That score didn’t last long, as Gabe Vincent earned a trip to the free throw line and knocked down both free throws to give the Heat the lead again at 102-101. Free throws were the name of the game for a few possessions, as Damian Lillard hit one to tie the game at 102-102, before Butler drained a pair to give the Heat a 104-102 advantage.
The Blazers then gained a bit of control. Jerami Grant got a 3-pointer from the corner to nestle into the net to put his team up, 105-104. After the Blazers got a stop, Simons stepped to the line and calmly sank two free throws to push their lead to 107-104 with 8.5 seconds remaining.
There was still time for more drama, as Max Strus got into the mix by running through an elevator-doors screen and swishing a tough, fading 3 to tie things up at 107-107 with 6.2 seconds to play.
Overtime seemed likely from there, but Lillard raced the ball up the floor and found Hart for the game-winner at the buzzer. That was Hart’s first make from outside the arc on the night, and it came at the perfect time. He finished with 12 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in a strong all-around performance.
“This is a team that grinds. We got stops and happy we got the win — nah don’t do that!” Hart said, as his post-game interview on the court was cut short by his teammates, who dumped water on his head.