MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The intensity of the Memphis Grizzlies returned and so did the character of a team that has struggled the past two weeks.
The result was a 107-102 victory over the Miami Heat on Wednesday night, keeping the Grizzlies in the hunt for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Zach Randolph had 25 points and 11 rebounds, while Marc Gasol added 20 points and 14 rebounds as Memphis stayed within a game of the Phoenix Suns, who hold the eighth spot. The Suns defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 94-88 also on Wednesday night.
"The headline of the day is the Grizzlies got the win, much needed win," said guard Tony Allen, whose defensive intensity in the second half helped Memphis force nine Miami turnovers leading to 20 Grizzlies points. "We want to continue to polish what we've got going, trying to race into the playoffs."
LeBron James led the Heat with 37 points, connecting on 14 of 23 shots, including 3 of 5 from beyond the arc. Rashard Lewis scored 17, and Chris Bosh finished with 13 points. Mario Chalmers scored 12 points for the Heat.
The loss, coupled with the Indiana Pacers' 104-102 win at Milwaukee, dropped the Heat into the second spot in the Eastern Conference.
Mike Conley finished with a team-high 26 points and handed out six assists for Memphis. Courtney Lee added 18 points.
The scoring of Randolph and Gasol contributed to a 60-30 advantage in the paint for Memphis. The Grizzles outrebounded the Heat 41-27, who were without reserve frontline players Greg Oden, Udonis Haslem and Chris Andersen, along with second-leading scorer Dwyane Wade.
"Obviously, those are key guys out against a team you need big bodies against," James said of the absences, and noting the double-doubles by Randolph and Gasol. "I thought for the most part, we played a pretty good game to win. The fourth quarter got a little away from us."
The fourth quarter was where the intensity of Allen that had been missing in recent weeks emerged. The defensive leader of the Grizzlies acknowledged being in a funk recently, but Allen, who guarded James much of the game, returned to his frenetic ways.
"When Tony's being Tony, when he's making the big plays defensively, doing the little things offensively, he picks everybody up," Conley said. "He doesn't have to say a word. You can see the energy."
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