With Grizzlies center Marc Gasol making an early exit because of
a sprained ankle, the smaller Miami Heat took advantage and pulled
out a 91-86 win Friday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Forward LeBron James connected on a jumper from the top of the key
with 24.8 seconds remaining to cap an 11-0 run and give Miami a
four-point advantage, 88-84, after the Heat trailed by seven with
Coming off a driving layup by Grizzlies guard Mike Conley to cut the
lead back to two, Memphis broke down defensively off a timeout and
gave Heat guard Ray Allen an open lane to the basket that resulted
in an Allen dunk with 14.1 seconds remaining. Conley then missed a
3-pointer that sealed Memphis' fate.
"It was one of those grind-out, playoff-type games," James said. "No
matter what happens, you have to make plays. Myself and D-Wade and
the rest of the guys made plays down the stretch."
The Heat had taken the lead with 1:04 remaining on a pair of Dwyane
Wade free throws.
"We just had to find a way in any way possible. It all happened on
the defensive end of the floor for us," Wade said of the decisive
run. "The energy turned up. We were able to start rebounding the
ball, and offensively, we were able to get out and make things
With the win, Miami kept pace with the Indiana Pacers, who won in
Chicago Friday, to remain three games back for the Eastern
Conference's No. 1 seed. James finished with 15 points, while Wade
had 14 and forward Chris Bosh had 11. Allen was Miami's leading
scorer with 18.
Forward Zach Randolph led the Grizzlies with a double-double of 25
points and 14 rebounds. Gasol, who will be re-evaluated on Saturday,
left with 14 points and six rebounds.
The departure of Gasol, last season's Defensive Player of the Year,
in the third quarter sparked a Heat run to get them back in the
"He got hurt and the game kind of changed," Randolph said. "They hit
big shots. We couldn't score towards the end. (There were) a couple
of calls we probably should've got."
While Miami turned up the intensity defensively, Memphis lost its
ball movement, another factor that the team loses without Gasol,
which Heat coach Erik Spoelstra calls one of the top three passing
big men in the NBA.
"We were using him to make that second and third pass to our bigs
and he was playing point forward for us," said guard Mike Conley,
who finished with 12 points and six assists. "The whole scheme was
through him and it was tough when he went out.
After trailing by as many as 12 in the third, Miami finished the
quarter on a 12-4 run with guards Norris Cole, Mario Chalmers and
Allen all hitting 3-point attempts and center Chris Andersen scoring
on a put-back as time expired in the period.
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Memphis went on two separate 8-0 runs in the third quarter to regain
control after losing an early advantage near halftime. Gasol and
Randolph did most of the work inside while also opening things up
for a pair of 3-pointers by Courtney Lee.
The Grizzlies led by as many as nine early, but a 9-0 run late in
the first half had the Heat leading 45-43 at halftime. Memphis used
its size advantage to score in the paint and get the Heat big men in
The Heat also spoiled the return to Miami of forward Mike Miller,
who only scored three points on 1-of-4 shooting in 22 minutes. He
missed on an open 3-point attempt with 51 seconds left and the Heat
Up next for the Heat, they travel to New Orleans for a Saturday
meeting with the Pelicans.
NOTES: Memphis F Mike Miller returned to Miami for the first time
since spending the previous three seasons with the Heat, winning two
NBA titles. He was given his 2013 championship ring pregame. There
was a video presentation honoring him, and the entire Heat team came
out to midcourt to greet him. Miller was waived by the Heat under
the amnesty clause on July 17, 2013, allowing Memphis to sign him
for the league minimum ... F LeBron James and C Greg Oden started
for the Heat Friday after sitting out Wednesday's game in Boston.
... The Grizzlies began a back-to-back against the top two teams in
the Eastern Conference. On Saturday, Memphis returns home to host
the Indiana Pacers, the East's No. 1 seed. ... Friday's game
featured the NBA's top two players in games started since the
2003-04 season — James (828) and F Tayshaun Prince (827).
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