Memphis Grizzlies at Miami Heat game preview
MIAMI -- Let's do it again.
After the Miami Heat beat the host Memphis Grizzlies 90-81 on Friday night, the teams fly south for the home-and-home rematch on Saturday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Miami's win on Friday was improbable given the fact that the Heat were without two injured starters in point guard Goran Dragic (strained left elbow) and small forward Justise Winslow (sore left wrist).
In addition, center Hassan Whiteside, who entered Friday night leading the NBA in rebounding (15.4) and ranking second in blocks (2.57) while averaging 18.3 points, had a quiet night due to foul trouble.
He was whistled for three fouls in a 68-second span of the third quarter and scored just four points on 1-for-6 shooting while adding 12 rebounds and two blocks.
Miami had just one player score over 15 points, and that man -- reserve guard Tyler Johnson -- pretty much stole the game for the Heat, making 8-of-17 shots from the floor while grabbing five rebounds.
It was a big win for the Heat (5-10), who snapped a two-game losing skid while also ending a six-game win streak for the Grizzlies (10-6).
Saturday night's rematch in Miami may be more about will than skill. These two teams figure to be fairly gassed after playing on Friday and flying in late night.
The Grizzlies, who shot just 35.4 percent from the floor on Friday, including 21.1 percent on 3-pointers (4-of-19), had been playing well until this emotional letdown.
There was a reason for that letdown, however, and it may continue.
Memphis is without power forward Zach Randolph indefinitely. He is mourning the loss of his mother, Mae Randolph, who passed away on Thanksgiving.
Mae was a single mom, raising Zach and his three siblings on her own, and the burly NBA standout is no doubt feeling her loss.
"We have to take care of our brother," Grizzlies coach David Fizdale told the media on Friday, which is when Mae Randolph's death was confirmed. "Losing his mom on Thanksgiving was devastating."
Without Randolph -- who has been described as Memphis' spiritual leader -- the Grizzlies were out of sorts all night against Miami. The Heat never trailed and led by as many as 17 points.
The Grizzlies used star point guard Mike Conley off the bench as he deals with a restriction on his overall minutes.
Conley, who signed a five-year, $153 million contract extension this past summer, scored 16 points in 23 minutes. It was the first time he did not start a game since Jan. 3, 2012, when he was returning from an ankle injury.
Three Grizzlies players are out with injuries: small forwards James Ennis (strained calf) and Chandler Parsons (left knee bone bruise) and power forward Brandan Wright (left ankle tendinitis). Ennis, a former Heat player, and Parsons, a Florida native, should return in two weeks. Wright is out one more month.
To add depth, Memphis called up 6-4 rookie combo guard David Baldwin from the Iowa Energy of the NBA Development League. He averaged 18.5 points in two games with Iowa.
Memphis had just 11 players available on Friday, and Miami had 10.
Given all that, it's safe to expect more turbulence from both offenses on Saturday.
Memphis is 25th in the NBA in scoring. Miami is 28th in the league in scoring.
Whiteside, who fouled out on Friday, figures to bounce back offensively on Saturday, and that would help the Heat immensely.
But if he doesn't put up big scoring numbers, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra will still take his other contributions.
"The boxscore does not tell the true impact Hassan had on this game," Spoelstra told the media when asked about Whiteside, who at times faced a zone-defense look against Memphis. "He had a great impact.
"He even had some (inspiring) words for his teammates. He wanted them to follow his lead, and we certainly did that defensively."
Miami's offense, on the other hand, will likely be without its quarterback again on Saturday as Dragic said he shouldn't have played Miami's previous game due to his elbow injury, and he is not about to make the same mistake twice.
"When I dribble, when I shoot the ball, when I pass the ball," Dragic said, "I cannot extend my elbow."