Heat Hold Off Grizzlies For 13th Straight Win, 98-91
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MIAMI (AP) — Dwyane Wade scored 22 points, LeBron James shook off his worst shooting night of the season to hit a key 3-pointer in the final half-minute, and the Miami Heat extended their winning streak to 13 games by beating the Memphis Grizzlies 98-91 on Friday night.
James scored 18 points on a season-worst 4 for 14 shooting, plus added 10 assists and eight rebounds. Shane Battier scored 14, Chris Bosh added 13 and Ray Allen had 10 for Miami, which snapped Memphis’ eight-game winning streak.
Marc Gasol scored 24 for the Grizzlies, who got 14 points apiece from Zach Randolph and Mike Conley, and 10 more from Quincy Pondexter.
Gasol tied the game with a pair of free throws with 2:44 left, before the Heat scored the next five — and quickly — to build a bit of breathing room. Bosh had a three-point play, and Wade took off in transition for a slam that put Miami up 90-85.
Memphis wasn’t done. Gasol made two more free throws, then scored off a dribble-drive with 42.5 seconds left to get the Grizzlies within 90-89.
But that was the last gasp. On the next Miami possession, James — even after slogging through what was his worst shooting night since another 4-for-14 against Orlando last March 18 — delivered the game’s biggest shot, a 3-pointer with 24 seconds remaining, and the Heat made free throws from there to close out the win.
“I’ve got confidence I’m going to knock it down, just like all the other ones I’ve missed,” James said. “I had confidence in those too, but they just don’t go down. That’s how the ball goes sometimes. But I’m always confident in my next shot. D-Wade gave me a great pass and I was able to knock it down.”
For the Heat, this week was filled with attention for things like pregame dunking exhibitions and their version of a “Harlem Shake” video — which generated more than 5 million views on YouTube in about 24 hours of being posted.
Then came a basketball game, the likes of which had not been seen in the NBA for almost 20 years.
According to STATS LLC, the most recent time before Friday that there was a game between two teams that were carrying at least 12- and eight-game winning streaks was Dec. 3, 1993, when Atlanta (which had won nine straight) beat Houston (which had won 15 straight).
In fact, the Heat-Grizzlies game was just the eighth in NBA history pitting two teams with active winning streaks of at least eight in a row.
Want more significance? Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins were announced earlier in the day as the Eastern and Western Conference coaches of the month, respectively. And news came just before tipoff that James was picked yet again as the East’s player of the month, making him 4-for-4 in that department this season.
“Just a residual of team success,” Spoelstra said.
Added Hollins: “I’m the head coach and I get the credit and I get the blame, but those guys have been playing extremely well … coming together with all the turmoil and all the chaos that we’ve had.”
So of course, in a game between the NBA’s two hottest teams, the start was ice cold. The teams combined to miss 23 of their first 32 shots.
And for James, things were downright frigid.
After the best shooting month of his career — the three-time MVP made 64 percent of his shots in February, the best month of any NBA player with 200 attempts since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar shot 65 percent in March 1983 — James’ run in March started in a decidedly different manner.
James made a 3-pointer on his first attempt of the night, then missed his next eight tries, and had just four points after three quarters.
A dunk with 9:19 left in regulation was just his second made field goal of the night, and he hit a runner midway through the fourth to reach double-digit scoring for the 475th straight regular-season game, going back to Jan. 6, 2007.
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