The Memphis Grizzlies, healthy and gelling early in the season, picked apart the reigning champion Miami Heat Sunday evening in a game that was a laugher well before the final buzzer sounded. The Grizzlies won, 104-86, using their phenomenal size and defense to stifle the Heat and hold them to a .380 shooting percentage in the loss.
Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol are the pre-eminent frontline tandem in the league right now— since things haven't gone stupendously in Los Angeles — and, with Shane Battier guarding power forwards for the Heat, the Grizzlies exploited their matchups and pounded the ball inside. Randolph and Gasol combined for 22 rebounds, Randolph scored 18 and, while Gasol scored just 2 points, the skilled big man dished out 6 assists, which is what happens when he can see over a defense.
It helped, of course, that Wayne Ellington went ballistic from three point range, knocking down seven of his 11 attempts and racking up 25 points. The Heat simply couldn't match the Grizzlies' outside shooting (bizarre, for a team with Ray Allen, Shane Battier and Mike Miller, but everyone has off nights), and shot just 27 percent from deep. LeBron James led the Heat with 20 points and 10 rebounds and Chris Bosh had 22 and 8.
This was just the second loss for the Heat, who dropped to 5-2 on the year. The Grizzlies moved into a tie with San Antonio for the lead in the Southwestern Division and the Western Conference at 5-1, and they've been among the more impressive teams in the league this year. They could be scary, considering they're all finally healthy and playing together.