MEMPHIS (CBSMiami/AP) – The Miami Heat are still trying to find some consistency in the early stages of the NBA season.
The Memphis Grizzlies had been cruising along before coming up short in back-to-back games, including a rare home defeat last time out.
The slumping Heat are also headed in the wrong direction.
Memphis and Miami both try to end losing streaks Sunday at FedExForum.
The Grizzlies (15-4) had proven nearly unbeatable through the end of last month before opening December on the wrong foot. Memphis fell 105-96 at Houston on Wednesday, then saw its 22-game home winning streak come to an end two nights later in a 107-101 loss to San Antonio.
The Grizzlies allowed the Spurs to shoot 14 of 25 from 3-point range for their worst defensive display of the season.
“We just have to do a better job of containing the dribbler,” point guard Mike Conley said. “If we can do that, then hopefully we can cut down on the easy baskets.”
Marc Gasol had 28 points and matched a season high with 12 rebounds while Conley and Tayshaun Prince scored a combined 43.
“I thought we were going to get them, but it didn’t go that way,” said Gasol, who played through a knee injury. “All we can do is try to get our group together and try to beat Miami.”
The Heat (9-10) are on the verge of their longest losing streak since 2010-11 after suffering their third consecutive defeat, 109-85 at Milwaukee on Friday. Dwyane Wade had 28 points and Chris Bosh added 21, but nobody else scored more than nine for Miami.
“Offensively, we couldn’t score the basketball,” said Wade, whose team was held to 86 points or fewer for the third time in four games. “You have to put the ball in the basket to win games, and we went for a long time without scoring.”
The Heat were also outrebounded 45-20, collecting the fewest rebounds by any team this season. Miami is averaging an NBA-low 35.5 rebounds.
“We’re either going to change it to give ourselves a chance to win or we’re not,” Wade said.
Miami has allowed its last three opponents to shoot a combined 54.9 percent, including 31 of 60 from 3-point range. The Bucks shot 56.5 percent for their best mark this season.
Despite their recent woes, coach Erik Spoelstra isn’t ready to make any changes to the lineup just yet.
“Right now, I can’t say if there will be any adjustments,” he said. “I have to get into the film and look at everything. We’ll go from there.”
Things aren’t about to get any easier in Memphis, where the Heat have dropped three straight and eight of 11. Miami will likely need more from Wade, who’s averaging just 14.3 points on 29.4 percent shooting during his last three visits.
Wade has scored at least 20 in each of his last eight games overall, a stretch during which he’s averaging 24.1 on 56.9 percent from the field.
Gasol leads the Grizzlies with 19.8 points per game, way up from his career mark of 13.7. He’s already posted 10 20-point efforts after recording eight in 59 games last season.
Gasol is averaging 19.3 points during a three-game stretch against Miami.
Heat guard Norris Cole has missed the last two games with a cold, leaving his status for Sunday unclear. Luol Deng is also uncertain to be available after sitting out Friday with a right hand contusion.
Deng had averaged just 8.0 points on 23.8 percent shooting in the previous three games.
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