Grizzlies 97, Heat 81

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)—The Memphis Grizzlies capitalized on the absence of Shaquille O’Neal to move closer to their second straight playoff berth.

Mike Miller scored a season-high 30 points and the Grizzlies dominated play inside against a Miami team missing its All-Star center, beating the Heat 97-81 Friday night.

“That was a huge win for us,” Memphis coach Mike Fratello said. “We recognize the fact they were missing the MVP of the league tonight, but our execution in the first half was terrific. We worked hard on the glass and we defended well.”

O’Neal sat out his second straight game with a stomach virus and the Grizzlies focused their defensive efforts on stopping Dwyane Wade.

Memphis outscored the Heat 40-24 in the paint and held Wade eight points below his average.

Memphis built a 30-point lead in the second quarter and led 60-35 at the half. Miami could get no closer than 14 points in the closing minutes.

“I’m thankful we haven’t had too many of those,” said Miami coach Stan Van Gundy, whose team owns the Eastern Conference’s best record at 56-20. “They played a great game. They were fabulous. We were awful.”

The Grizzlies, who are battling the Minnesota Timberwolves for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot, also used an accurate touch from long range to build their 30-point first-half advantage. Memphis hit its first five 3-point attempts.

The Grizzlies’ defensive effort was as impressive as its offensive performance. Memphis blocked nine shots—including six by Pau Gasol—and finished with 10 steals. They held the Heat to 38.7 percent shooting and 30.8 percent from 3-point range.

O’Neal, whose status for Sunday’s game against Detroit is uncertain, is averaging 23 points and 10.6 rebounds, but he remained in Miami and did not travel with the team.

“Obviously Shaq is a big part of our team, but we still had enough left to get it done,” Miami’s Alonzo Mourning said. “I think if we had put forth a little more effort and showed a sense or urgency at the beginning it would have been a totally different outcome.”

Miller’s point total included five 3-pointers. Gasol added 17 points and Bonzi Wells had 15 in a reserve role.

Fratello also pointed to point guard Jason Williams’ contributions during the first-half runaway. The Grizzlies went on a 20-2 run early in the first quarter to take a 24-9 lead. Consecutive 3-pointers by Williams stretched the advantage.

“The tempo and direction of the game was set early by Jason Williams,” Fratello said. “He pushed the ball and hit some shots that led to 19 fast-break points in the first half. He got the crowd into the game and the fans excited.”

Wade scored 16 to lead the Heat, but was 5-of-17 from the field. Damon Jones added 14.

Memphis has seven games left, including home games against Charlotte, San Antonio and Dallas. The Grizzlies have road games against Dallas, Houston, Denver and San Antonio.

“Obviously we’ve got a tough schedule coming up,” Gasol said. “The main thing is we have to protect our home court and then go on the road aggressively, with a mission.”


Wade fell short in his attempt to set a franchise record with a fourth straight 30-point game. Wade had tallied 39 vs. Chicago on April 5, 33 at New Orleans on April 2 and 37 at Indiana on March 31. … Fratello served as a television analyst for the Heat the past three seasons before accepting the Grizzlies job Dec. 2. … In 27 career games against the Grizzlies, O’Neal was averaging 26.7 points, the most by any opposing player. Heat coach Stan Van Gundy said O’Neal may not play Sunday at home against Detroit. “He could feel great on Sunday or pretty washed out,” Van Gundy said. “But we’ll just have to wait and see. There is certainly a chance he would not play.” … A crowd of 18,119 at the FedEx Forum gave the Grizzlies their 18th sellout of the season.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
D. Wade D. Wade
5-17,  16 Pts
4 Rebs, 7 Assists
P. Gasol P. Gasol
7-11,  17 Pts
6 Rebs, 4 Assists

Team Stat Leaders