The Miami Heat game plan coming into the sold-out FedExForum (Nov. 11) was to keep Memphis from feeding the ball inside to big men Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.
Sure. That sounds pretty good, except that the plan backfired as the Grizzlies darted past the world champs 104 to 86. And it was the second unit that led the charge.
The Grizzlies were up 85-76. Grizzlies backup point guard Jarryd Bayless missed a shot that was captured by the Heat's three-point guru Ray Allen, who ran to the other end for the court in pursuit of a lay-up. A hustling Bayless caught up to Allen and swatted the ball away. Grizz starting forward Rudy Gay retrieved the ball and threw it to reserve Wayne Ellington, who made his sixth three-pointer of the night with 7:20 left to play.
The crowd began to party.
Outside shots – not points in the paint – made the night for Memphis, a team not known for its three-point shooting. The Grizzlies made 14 of 24 three-point attempts and shot 87.5 percent from the line.
Ellington finished with a career-high 25 points, leading all scorers and finishing with seven three-pointers.
"You get in the zone where you feel like you can't miss," said Ellington.
Grizz head coach Lionel Hollins said the Heat did a nice job of hindering Memphis' effort to swing the ball and get into the post.
"We finally put Wayne in the game to swing and that became the wide-open three for a wide-open shot," said Hollins.
Bayless said the Memphis bench "just wanted to come in, continue playing the right way and continue getting everybody open looks. We were able to do that and it worked out well."
Starting point guard Mike Conley, who finished with 18 points and 9 assists, said a lot of guys came up big. "Wayne (Ellington) obviously was the MVP of the night. It was just a fun game to be a part of."
Gay finished with 21 points and eight rebounds while Randolph collected his sixth consecutive double-double (18 points, 12 rebounds).
Chris Bosh led the Heat with 22 points and eight rebounds. Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said his team had not prepared for Memphis' outside shooting.
"You try to protect the paint against this team because they have so many guys that can control the paint, especially with Z-bo (Zach Randolph) and Marc (Gasol)," said the Heat's superstar forward LeBron James.
"You go into a game with a game plan. You know he (Ellington) was there for the taking. He made us pay for some mistakes. Some mistakes we didn't have, he just actually shot the ball extremely well."
James finished with 20 points, 10 boards, six assists and two steals.
"Just an overall great team game, there isn't much that I can complain about," said Hollins.
The Grizz, who defeated the Houston Rockets on Nov. 9 (93-85) at the FedExForum, are now 5-1 to open the season, the team's best start in franchise history.
Memphis will face the red-hot New York Knicks on Friday (Nov. 16) at FedExForum, with the game televised on ESPN.