Give the Miami Heat a week off and they get . . . hungrier.
Their steamrolling of the NBA halted only by a six-day gap in their schedule for the All-Star break, the Heat picked up Thursday where they left off with last Thursday’s tour de force against the Jeremy Lin and the Knicks, with a 107-93 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers at the Rose Garden.
After taking an eight-game winning streak into the All-Star break, a streak that featured each victory coming by 12 points or more, the Heat were challenged by coach Erik Spoelstra to come back hungrier.
He said he liked what he saw during Tuesday and Wednesday practices at AmericanAirlines Arena.
“The mindset spoke volumes,” he said, “that we’re not going to come back complacent.”
He had to appreciate what he saw Thursday even more, with the Heat blowing out to a 25-point lead in the third quarter before cruising, albeit somewhat unevenly, to the finish.
This time, playing in the absence of All-Star power forward Chris Bosh, who is attending his grandmother’s funeral, the Heat burst to a 60-42 halftime lead against an opponent that had been playing well at home.
Dwyane Wade scored 22 of his 33 points in the first half, matching his highest-scoring half of the season. LeBron James added 19 of his 38 points over those opening two periods. It was the first time this season the two scored 30 or more in the same game.
James added 11 rebounds and six assists. Wade matched his season high with 10 assists.
But it was more than star appeal.
Udonis Haslem, given additional time amid the absence of Bosh, who also will miss Friday’s game against the Utah Jazz, grabbed 11 first-half rebounds, including nine in the second quarter, giving him Heat individual highs for a half and a quarter this season. He closed with his fourth double-double of the season, with 14 rebounds and 11 points.
And center Joel Anthony actually scored three baskets, in addition to grabbing seven. rebounds.
It appeared the Blazers, who lost Wednesday night in Denver, were going to give the Heat a test when All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge opened 6 of 7 from the field. But the Heat nonetheless pushed to a 32-24 lead at the end of the opening period.
For the Heat it was an exercise in early efficiency, even with the switch of Shane Battier into the starting lineup in place of Bosh. The Heat committed just one first-quarter turnover and had just three at the intermission, matching their low for a half this season. The Heat also committed just three first-half fouls, their low for a half this season.
The Heat went into the fourth quarter up 87-69.
The victory lifted the Heat to 5-0 with Battier in the starting lineup.
It was the Heat’s 20th victory in their last 23 games.