MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Almost a fourth of the way into the NBA season, the Memphis Grizzlies have established themselves as one of the league’s stronger teams. Most of the time, that description applies literally.
However, in a 103-87 win over the Miami Heat on Sunday night at FedExForum, the Grizzlies prevailed with touch rather than power. Memphis shot a season-high 58.9 percent (43-for-73) from the floor, including 61.5 percent (8-for-13) from 3-point range.
Center Marc Gasol only scored two points in 28 minutes, and it didn’t matter.
“They didn’t even hurt us in their normal game. That’s what was disappointing,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after he watched his team lose its fourth straight. “It wasn’t really the power-paint, post-up game that you would expect.”
Heat forward Chris Bosh, who finished with 12 points, two rebounds, two assists and three steals, said: “It was open for season for them. Until we take pride in guarding the ball with passion, things won’t fall into place.”
The Grizzlies (16-4) avoided losing three in a row for the first time this season after falling at Houston on Wednesday and at home against San Antonio on Friday.
“We knew this was a big game in terms of stopping a losing streak before it really got started,” said Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley, who finished with 18 points.
The Grizzlies’ leading scorer and rebounder was an unlikely source: reserve forward Jon Leuer, who put up a double-double with a season-high 20 points and season-best 12 rebounds. Leuer, like many of the Grizzlies’ bench players, never knows from night to night if he will play more than 20 minutes (as he did Sunday), five minutes, or not at all.
“I know how to handle it,” Leuer said.
The way he handled it Sunday was by shooting 7-for-12 from the floor and 2-for-3 from 3-point range. Leuer also finished a fastbreak with a power dunk at the end of a 17-3 run in the fourth quarter that gave Memphis a 99-82 lead with 4:01 remaining.
“Deceptive,” Conley said, “that’s a good word for him.”
The Heat (9-11) had pulled to within 82-79 at the start of the quarter, only for the Grizzlies to immediately put down the threat. Defensive stopper Tony Allen also re-entered the game with 10:02 to play and went into in action.
“I come in here and just try to cause havoc,” said Allen, who had two steals in four fourth-quarter minutes and finished with 14 points.
Miami guard Dwyane Wade scored a game-high 25 points, but he got 15 of them in the first half. Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger used Allen on him at game’s start, and when Wade got into a rhythm, he came back with forward Tayshaun Prince.
“I struggled with him early,” Allen said. “Tay came in and gave him a different kind of defend — more length on him.”
Memphis power forward Zach Randolph and shooting guard Courtney Lee each scored 17 points. Though Gasol wound up roughly 18 points below his 19.8 average, he contributed seven assists and six rebounds.
Heat forward Josh McRoberts finished with 14 points, forward Luol Deng had 13, and guard Mario Chalmers scored 12. Miami shot 48.8 percent (39-for-80) from the floor.
“Our game plan was to protect the paint and make them make shots,” Wade said. “We did our part, but they made the shots.”
NOTES: Coming into Sunday, Memphis PF Zach Randolph was averaging 11.2 rebounds per game (seventh in the NBA) and C Marc Gasol was averaging 8.2 rebounds per game. Even so, the Grizzlies were tied for 18th in rebounds per game at 42.0. “Very bothersome,” Memphis coach Dave Joerger said. “We’re one of the least athletic teams and we’re not very big on the wing so we really have to put bodies on bodies.” … Miami F Josh McRoberts (illness), F Luol Deng (hand contusion) and G Norris Cole (dislocated finger/cold) were ailing, but all three started. … Miami F/C Chris Bosh and G Dwyane Wade shared the team lead in scoring at 21.8 points per game prior to Sunday. … The San Antonio Spurs snapped the Grizzlies’ 22-game home winning streak on Friday.
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