It wasn’t pretty, but the Miami Heat found a way.
And that, at least, is reassuring.
The Memphis Grizzlies were one of the hottest teams in the NBA coming into AmericanAirlines Arena Friday night, having won eight of their last 10 games and playing themselves into the playoffs in the über competitive Western Conference. Miami won 91-86, using a 14-2 run to close the game.
The Grizzlies are a big team, too. With Mac Gasol and Zach Randolph guarding the rim like a couple of stone giants, it wouldn’t be easy for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to get to the basket.
LeBron and Wade combined for 29 points on 12-of-35 shooting. The Heat turned the ball over 14 times. They shot 46 percent from the floor, including 7-of-20 from three.
On the other side, Randolph was tearing them apart like a bear going through a garbage bin, going for 25 points and 14 rebounds. 14 rebounds that the Heat wanted, but could not get.
So how did the Heat win?
To be cliché, it was a team effort. Ray Allen had 18 points and Mario Chalmers had 14. Greg Oden did his best to keep Gasol and Randolph as far from the basket as he could and Chris Andersen did the same. It was a grinding, ugly, tough game.
“It was one of those playoff, grind out games,” James said, tweeted by Bleacher Report’s Ethan Skolnick.
“The Memphis Grizzlies are a very, very good team. We just had to find a way,” Wade told Skolnick.
Down 84-77 with 4:08 left, the Heat scored 11 unanswered points to come back. Allen hit a three, Wade hit a couple of jumpers, and, with 24 seconds left, James hit a jumper at the tip of the elbow to put Miami up 88-84.
It wasn’t easy, but these are the kind of game the Heat need to prove they can win. These are the kind of game that get a team ready for the playoffs.
It’s a kind of game that gets the blood flowing. It wasn’t pretty, but it doesn’t have to be.