for this game

Wade returns as Memphis hands Miami seventh straight loss

Jan 7, 2008 - 1:31 AM By Jason Smith PA Sportsticker Contributing Writer

MEMPHIS, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Pau Gasol, Mike Miller and Rudy Gay combined to score 75 points Sunday to help the Memphis Grizzlies hand the Miami Heat a 101-94 loss at FedEx Forum.

Miami guard Dwayne Wade, who was held out of the team's road loss at Dallas on Friday with nagging injuries to his shoulder, knee and pinkie finger, had a chance to tie the game at 94-94 with 1:04 remaining, but missed a pair of free throws.

Gay buried a 21-footer on the other end off an assist from rookie guard Mike Conley and Miller and reserve guard Juan Carlos Navarro each knocked down a pair of free throws over the final 27 seconds in handing the Heat their seventh consecutive loss.

"Of course, it's tough, and I take full responsibility (for the loss)," Wade said. "I think when I missed those two free throws, it kind of took the air out of us as a team. For the next couple of possessions, it was like we did everything wrong that we could do.

"I think my team played an excellent game. Ricky Davis, Chris Quinn and Udonis (Haslem) played a great game and that's all you can ask for. You leave it up to the guys who are called the stars of the team to win it at the end. I had an opportunity, but I didn't do it, and I apologize to those guys that I didn't come through."

Wade finished with 18 points on 7-of-20 shooting off the bench for Miami, which got a season-high 24 points from Ricky Davis.

"We played extremely well in the fourth quarter with the exception of the last several shots in the game and a couple free throws and maybe a couple of offensive rebounds," Heat coach Pat Riley said.

The Heat played without center Shaquille O'Neal, who missed his fifth straight game with a hip injury.

Gasol finished with a game-high 28 points and 13 rebounds. Miller had 25 and Gay added 22 for the Grizzlies, who snapped a three-game losing streak at home.

"If we want to win games, you have to have stops down the stretch," said Miller, who added eight rebounds and six assists. "Dwyane is a great basketball player and Ricky Davis had it going on. We had to make shots down the stretch to win and we did that."

Memphis led by as many as eight points in the fourth quarter, but Chris Quinn's 3-pointer from the right corner on an assist from Wade gave Miami its first lead at 90-88 since early in the third quarter.

Conley, who had 11 points and seven assists, tied the game at 90-90 with a 10-foot runner on the other end.

Udonis Haslem put Miami back up on a layup with 3:23 left, but Conley and Gasol tacked on back-to-back layups to give Memphis a 94-92 lead.

Wade, a 75-percent free-throw shooter, then drew a blocking foul on Gasol with 1:04 remaining, but missed both free throws.

"It was a great atmosphere, especially being the first time playing in front of the home crowd in the regular season," said Conley, who saw his first game action this season at home on Sunday. "It was a big night for me. I thought we came out and played well and put on a good show."

"Conley has shown he is the glue. He is learning on the fly, but the team seems to feel comfortable with him," Memphis coach Marc Iavaroni said about the rookie point guard's first career start at home. "I really came in with few expectations, but I think he's ready to be good and we just have to be patient with him and our team."

Gay's alley-oop dunk off an assist from Juan Carlos Navarro midway through the second quarter gave Memphis its biggest lead of the first half at 37-29.

But Miami responded with a 17-6 scoring run over the final 6:11 of the second quarter. Heat center Mark Blount scored nine points during the spurt, which gave Miami a 46-43 lead at halftime.

"The guys that are out there on the floor can always do more," Quinn said. "So you can't use injuries as an excuse for what's happening."

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