The Memphis Grizzlies blew a fourth quarter lead to the Miami Heat en route to their third loss in four games.
Coach Dave Joerger elected to go with Courtney Lee and Matt Barnes in place of Zach Randolph and Tony Allen in the starting lineup. After word of the demotion came out it was reported that Allen would miss the game due to a right knee injury suffered in warmups.
Forward Jeff Green seized the day and played well without Randolph, which has been a theme for him all season long. He scored 26 points on 10-20 shooting, pulled in 2 rebounds and 3 assists, but also turned the ball over 4 times while playing the power forward spot.
Without Randolph on the floor Green has much more room to operate. He can take advantage of his speed against bigger, slower defenders or use his athleticism against stretch fours. Against the Heat, his jumpshot was hitting for most of the game and he was taking advantage of open driving lanes.
The Grizzlies starting lineup was noticeably different. They were moving the ball with purpose, getting open shots and played good defense for stretches. Unfortunately, the new starting lineup could not get Marc Gasol going as he was 5-10 from the field for 12 points.
In the last six Grizzly losses (San Antonio, Atlanta, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Charlotte and Miami) Gasol has been passive for a majority of the game. In none of those losses did he take over 11 shots and only took more than 5 free throws in two of them. The Grizzlies have only won twice this season when Gasol shoots less than 11 shots.
Mike Conley's struggles continued against the Heat. The free agent to be only scored 9 points and dished out 4 assists in 26 minutes. When Memphis had a chance to tie the game up with the clock ticking down Conley threw an errant pass behind Gasol, effectively ending the game.
Some parts of Conley's game rebounded against the Heat. He stole the ball four times and blocked his ninth shot of the season, but the defensive aggression did not come without a price as he was in foul trouble for most of the game.
Those are the Grizzlies' two best players. If they don't come to play the Grizzlies aren't going to close out many games, especially ones with the superstars Miami has.
Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh led the Heat back in the fourth quarter. Wade brought them within two with under a minute left then hit the go ahead jumper after some poor Lee defense with under 30 seconds remaining.
Wade looked uninterested for most of the game until it was time to for him to assert himself in the fourth quarter. He only had 14 points and 4 rebounds. It was Chris Bosh that carried the Heat for a majority of the game. Nobody on the Grizzlies could contain him as he went off for 22 points.
The Grizzlies take on Washington on Monday night in a back-to-back. It will be interesting to see how the team responds after a big let down.