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Heat's James shakes off Grizzlies in fourth quarter

The SportsXchange

MIAMI -- The Memphis Grizzlies shut down LeBron James for three quarters, but they failed to "shake" his confidence -- or that of the Miami Heat.

On a night when the Heat's playful "Harlem Shake" video dominated sports talk shows, Miami backed up their increasing swagger with a 98-91 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies Friday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.

In a battle of the two hottest teams in the NBA, the Heat won their 13th game in a row and snapped the Grizzlies' win streak at eight.

James, who had just four points after three quarters, finished with 18 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists. He missed eight of his first nine shots from the field and seemed to be in jeopardy of having his first single-digit scoring game since January of 2007.

But with the Heat nursing a 90-89 lead with 24.2 seconds left, James drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key to bury the Grizzlies.

"I was thinking that if (Dwyane Wade) kicks it to me, which he usually does, I was going to take that shot," James said. "And I was going to make it."

James finished his night shooting just 4 of 14 from the floor, which is in contrast to the 64-percent clip he converted on in the month of February.

"That's what I like about this win," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We had to find a different way to win."

Those "different" ways included a stellar performance off the bench from forward Shane Battier, who missed Tuesday's win over Sacramento because of a hamstring injury. On Friday, he made 4-of-5 3-pointers and finished with 14 points.

The Heat was led by Wade, who had 22 points and 8 assists. Chris Bosh had 13 points, and Ray Allen added 10.

Thanks in large part to those main contributors, this Heat team now has the second longest win streak in franchise history. The record of 14 in a row was set in 2004-2005, and the Heat can match that mark by beating their rivals, the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.

The Knicks are 2-0 against the Knicks so far this season.

"We're all looking forward to that game," Wade said. "It's MSG. You are always excited to play there. It's a lot of people's favorite place to play, and it's against a team that has beaten us twice this season. It's the perfect time for us to play them."

Meanwhile, had the Grizzlies won on Friday, they would have set a franchise record with nine consecutive victories.

The Grizzlies had also won 7 of their past 10 games against the Heat, including three of four since James joined Miami. On Nov. 11, they beat the Heat, 104-86, holding Wade to eight points on 3-of-15 shooting. Memphis is still the only team to hold Miami to less than 40-percent shooting this season.

On Friday, the Grizzlies held the Heat to 46.6-percent shooting and handcuffed James until the fourth quarter.

"LeBron's 3 at the top of the key really broke our hearts," Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. "But we battled."

Marc Gasol led the Grizzlies with 24 points and 9 rebounds. Zach Randolph added 14 points and 9 rebounds, and point guard Mike Conley had 14 points and 8 assists.

Hollins said the Heat went small at the end of the game and then posted Wade, who has a height advantage on Conley.

Spoelstra also said he made another late adjustment by having James guard Conley in the fourth quarter.

Still, Conley said he was proud of his team's effort.

"We didn't let them get out in transition too much," he said. "We were playing the way we wanted to play. We thought we had a very good chance of winning, but they're a good team. We're disappointed, but we tried everything we could."

Gasol added to the long list of James admirers when he put the game in perfect perspective.

"(James) didn't have the look he normally has," Gasol said. "We did a good job, but he made the big shot (at the end), and that's all that matters.

"We limited him to almost a triple-double."

NOTES: Randolph turned his left ankle when he missed a layup on the first possession of the game, but he stayed in the game and played 37 minutes. "That slowed him down," Hollins said. "He wasn't able to play at full strength. That was a factor." ... James, who was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Month on Friday for the fourth time this season, shot 64.1 percent from the field in February. His shooting percentage for the month was the highest for any NBA player since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar shot 65 percent in March 1983. ... After leading the Heat to a 12-1 record in February, Spoelstra was named the conference's Coach of the Month. The average margin of victory was 12.8, and five of the wins were on the road, which had been a problem earlier in the season. ... The Grizzlies' current hot streak coincides with the acquisition of Tayshaun Prince in the trade that sent Rudy Gay to Toronto. The Grizzlies have won nine of their first 11 games since the deal. ... Hollins, who was named the Western Conference Coach of the Month, credited his players and staff. "I know I'm the head coach, and I get the credit, and I get the blame," he said. "But our guys have been playing extremely well. You have to give them their due with all the chaos and turmoil we've had -- not only with trade rumors and trades but with deaths in our organization (assistant general manager Kenny Williamson, VP of basketball operations Dana Davis). It has been a trying season. But it's sweeter when you accomplish what you do when you've had so much adversity."
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