MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Miami Heat had motivation: They are trying to earn the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
For the Memphis Grizzlies, though, the operative word was desperation.
Despite the Heat knocking down 15 of 25 3-point attempts and Miami forward LeBron James pouring in 37 points, the Grizzlies earned a 107-102 win Wednesday night at FedExForum.
Memphis (46-32) stayed within a game of the Phoenix Suns for the last playoff position in the Western Conference.
“Obviously, we needed it more than they did,” Grizzlies guard Tony Allen said.
James downplayed the importance of the No. 1 seed to his short-handed team. Miami guard Dwyane Wade didn’t play because of a hamstring injury, forward Chris Andersen was out with a knee injury, and forward Udonis Haslem had a stomach virus.
The Heat (53-25) sits a half-game behind the Indiana Pacers heading into the teams’ showdown Friday night in Miami.
“We want to get healthy,” James said. “That’s all we care about, going into the postseason healthy.”
Though not as well known, the Grizzlies have their own Big Three. Power forward Zach Randolph, center Marc Gasol and point guard Mike Conley combined for 71 points, 28 rebounds and 11 assists in the victory.
Conley, who scored a team-high 26 points and added six assists, called it the most important game of the year — so far.
“This was huge,” he said. “We knew if we could beat a team like Miami, we could show that we’ve got that hunger for that playoff spot. This can do wonders for us.”
Randolph finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds for his 45th double-double of the season. He scored 19 in the first half on 9-for-9 shooting from the floor, including a 3-pointer.
“I pick and choose and my spots,” Randolph said. “I got off to a good start.”
Gasol had 20 points with a game-high 14 rebounds, plus three assists and two steals. Shooting guard Courtney Lee added 18 points.
The Grizzlies extended their season-high home winning streak to 12 games, but they recorded just their sixth win in their past 11 games overall.
“We have been talking about it for a couple of days,” Memphis coach Dave Joerger said. “It’s a big game, a national TV game. We needed to have a heck of a game, and I thought we had a heck of a game.”
Miami lost for the third time in four games. The Heat was on the second night of a back-to-back after falling at home to the Brooklyn Nets 88-87 Tuesday.
Since Dec. 28, the Grizzlies are 9-0 at FedExForum when playing a team that played the previous day.
“They slowed down a little bit,” Joerger said of the Heat. “We talked at halftime … we have to keep going, contesting shots and trying to make everything difficult. Let’s get into their legs.”
Miami led by five when Gasol made a layup with 1.7 seconds left in the third quarter. A turnover by Heat guard Norris Cole gave the Grizzlies the ball with seven-10ths of a second left. It was just enough time for Lee to hit a running 3-pointer in the corner before the buzzer, tying the score at 80 going into the fourth quarter.
The game was tied again at 91-91 with 5:43 left in the fourth quarter when the Grizzlies went on a 16-4 run to take a game-high, 12-point lead (107-95) with 1:27 left to play.
“We let the fourth quarter get away from us,” James said.
The Grizzlies shot 55.1 percent from the field and owned a 41-27 edge in rebounds. They came in holding opponents to the fewest rebounds per game in the league (39.58). They also had a whopping 60-30 advantage over Miami on points in the paint. The Heat shot 52.1 percent from the floor.
Miami forward Rashard Lewis finished with 17 points off the bench, and center Chris Bosh scored 13 points.
The Heat now turn their attention to the Pacers.
“It’s going to be intense,” Bosh said. “It will pretty much be the playoffs.”
NOTES: Heat G Dwyane Wade (strained left hamstring) and C Greg Oden (back spasms) were inactive for Wednesday’s game. Wade went through pregame drills and coach Erik Spoelstra said, “We’re encouraged by the progress he’s making. He’s getting closer.” … Grizzlies SF Tayshaun Prince remained sidelined by a left ankle sprain. James Johnson started in his place and scored five points. … . Brooklyn’s 88-87 victory over the Heat on Tuesday gave the Nets a 4-0 season sweep of the two-time defending NBA champions. … The Heat lost for the fifth time in their past six trips to Memphis. … Asked pregame if he expected an angry Heat team or one that is reeling, Memphis coach Dave Joerger said, “I don’t care. I have issues of my own.”
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