NFL playoff field set:

Ellington leads Grizzlies past Heat

The SportsXchange

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The Memphis Grizzlies have had plenty of catch-and-shoot guards in their franchise history. They just haven't had many catch-and-make-shots guards.

They apparently have one now.

Reserve guard Wayne Ellington, acquired by the Griz in an offseason trade with Minnesota, scored a career-high 25 points to fuel a Grizzlies three-point frenzy in a 104-86 pounding of the defending NBA champion Miami Heat on Sunday afternoon in FedExForum.

Ellington nailed 7 of 11 threes, and his hot shooting spread among his teammates. Memphis, not known as a long-distance shooting crew, drained 14 of 24 threes against a stunned Heat defense.

"So far, it felt like the best game (of my NBA career), just being in that (shooting) zone," said Ellington, who led the University of North Carolina in the 2009 national championship, but who languished in his first three NBA seasons before the Grizzlies traded for him in July. "The last time I felt like that was in college. It has been awhile, but it feels good to be back there."

Rudy Gay added 21 points and eight rebounds for the Griz, with Mike Conley contributing 18 and Zach Randolph recording his fifth straight double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds.

Chris Bosh scored 22 points and LeBron James added 20 for the Heat.

The victory for the Grizzlies (5-1) extended their regular-season homecourt winning streak to 14 games, while Miami fell to 5-2.

The Heat thought they were playing the percentages by letting the Grizzlies rip freely from long distance. Every scouting report in the NBA says the heart of the Memphis offense is post players Marc Gasol and Randolph.

"Our game plan coming in was protecting the paint," said James, who scored just two points in the fourth quarter and played just 41/2 minutes when the game got out of hand. "We knew we were going to have a job on our hands with Z-Bo (Randolph) and Marc Gasol. The (threes) were there for the taking and we paid for it."

It's the second straight season that the Grizzlies blasted the Heat. Last April, Memphis won 97-82 in Miami to hand the Heat just their third home loss of the season.

Because Miami plays a smaller inside lineup than the Griz, Memphis' plan is to always attack the basket against the Heat.

In previous games this season, the Grizzlies had gotten off to slow starts. But not against the Heat. The Grizzlies led from start to finish, just as they did in last season's 15-point win.

"We came out with more energy and urgency at the beginning of the game, and we didn't play from behind," Griz coach Lionel Hollins said. "They tried to take Zach (Randolph) and Marc (Gasol) away early, which they did. But we started making shots."

And they kept making shots.

The Griz executed their scouting report on the Heat to perfection. Memphis wanted to attack the basket early and often, and it did. Also, Memphis, noting Miami had a tendency to play lax transition defense, wanted to keep pushing the ball upcourt off missed shots.

That finally paid off in the closing minutes of the opening half. That's when Conley scored seven straight points on a corner three-pointer and two transition layups to start a 14-1 run that closed the half for a 56-41 Grizzlies' halftime lead.

The closest Heat got to the Grizzlies in the second half was 63-58 with 6:57 left in the third quarter. But the Griz went on an 11-0 run, fueled by Ellington and Gay threes, and Miami couldn't get off the deck.

"There are always six or seven moments in a game where you are mentally and physically connected to make those plays, and we didn't," Heat coach Erik Speolstra said. "They (the Grizzlies) made those plays. They're good. They did what they needed to do."

Memphis' three-point shooting skewed everything. The Heat had 20 more free throw attempts than the Grizzlies, outscoring the Griz from the line 22-14. The Griz shot 44.2 percent from the field, but 58.2 percent on three-pointers.

NOTES: Memphis made six three-pointers in the second quarter to tie a franchise record for threes in that period. . .The Griz made 14 threes, and the last time they hit 14 threes was against the Knicks in April 2008. . . Ellington had seven threes, and the last time a Griz player did that was Mike Miller at Minnesota in April 2008. Ellington had 25 points off the bench, and the last time a Griz reserve scored 25 was last March, when Zach Randolph scored 25 when he was coming back from knee surgery. . .The Heat made just 1 of 7 free throws in the first quarter, the NBA's worst free-throw-shooting first quarter since Golden State went 1-for-9 vs. Utah on Nov. 4, 2006 (minimum 7 team attempts.). . . Hollins said the Miami Heat finally found chemistry once they realized who was the best player on their team. "The best player eventually rose to the top," Hollins said. "The best player is LeBron James, he's the best player in the game. His talents and versatility require he have the ball and make the plays, not anybody else. So once everybody fell into line and embraced those roles, they became a tough team to deal with."
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