The Miami Heat made it look easy with a decisive 115-89 win against the visiting Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night. In the process, Miami secured a much-needed bounce back game one day after a frustrating overtime loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.
The blowout win also marked their largest victory of the season and the end of a 17 game streak of games decided by single digits, to the welcome relief of long-suffering Heat fans. Even in the midst of a dominating third quarter in which the host team took control of the game and kept increasing their lead, fans would be forgiven if they were expecting the shorthanded Grizzlies to somehow roar to life and make it interesting. Instead, Miami kept it up after outscoring Memphis 32-18 in the third quarter and piled it on throughout the final quarter to cruise to victory and hand the Grizzlies their ninth consecutive loss.
Starting backcourt duo Tyler Johnson (23 points) and Goran Dragic set the tone early in the game while Justise Winslow enjoyed one of his best offensive performances of the season, finishing with a season-high 17 points on a tidy 7-12 FG shooting, including 2-3 from beyond the arc, to go along with seven rebounds, two assists and three steals. Dragic was aggressive attacking the paint but ended up being the only starter to finish with single digit points with six, also adding eight assists and six rebounds in 25 minutes.
Hassan Whiteside (12 points, eight rebounds, three blocks) had some trouble finishing around the rim but came through in the third quarter with several big plays on both ends of the court. Even better was Bam Adebayo bringing infectious energy off the bench and an incredible dunk that was the highlight of the game.
Wayne Ellington also came through with a big time performance off the bench to bring some red hot shooting, especially during the second half.
The Heat began a crucial five game homestand by taking advantage of a Grizzlies team, owners of the second worst road record in the NBA, missing Tyreke Evans and Marc Gasol. Next up is an important matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday with plenty of playoff implications.