Discount the Miami Heat's recent losses as a March malaise if you want. But the Memphis Grizzlies arrived Friday night to AmericanAirlines Arena playing gritty, defensive-minded, low-post based, playoff-style basketball. That made it a telling test no matter where the calendar stood. This time, the Heat passed the test, averting a seventh loss in 10 games with a 91-86 victory. "When you play against a big team like this, that can defend, you have to really work the game," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "You have to manage the emotions. No, this was not the Heat's Big Three at their Big Three best. But the way the Grizzlies play defense, that was unlikely anyway. Instead, it took climbing back from a 12-point third-quarter deficit and a seven-point deficit in the fourth. Mission accomplished, albeit barely. "We were able to keep it close enough," Spoelstra said. Back with a full complement of players, with LeBron James back from the back spasms that kept him out of Wednesday's road loss to the Boston Celtics, the Heat played the end game better than they had in recent losses to the Celtics, Denver Nuggets, Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets. "That was what we talked about today in the walkthrough," Spoelstra said, "that every one of our games, they're coming down the stretch where you have to make plays in the fourth quarter and manage the game. "We really responded tonight." James did it while clearly no himself, the back issue limiting his impact to 15 points, albeit with seven assists and six rebounds. "It's been better, for sure," he said of his back. "I'm playing through it."
Heat step up late, push past Grizzlies 91-86
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel | Mar 22