It was opening night at the American Airlines Arena as the Miami Heat began their 32nd season as they hosted the Memphis Grizzlies. The Heat would be without James Johnson (Coach’s decision), Dion Waiters (serving a one game suspension), Udonis Haslem (wrist injury), and Jimmy Butler, who had personal reasons to attend to.
Miami jumped out of the gate early in the contest with a bucket from debuting rookie Tyler Herro, a lob from Bam Adebayo, and a scoop layup from Justise Winslow, before Ja Morant would get Memphis on the board. With Miami leading 11 to 6, the Grizzlies went on a twelve to one run, before Kelly Olynyk knocked down a three-pointer for the Heat to end the run. After another bucket from Herro, Memphis would go on another run, scoring twelve unanswered and taking a 32 to 24 lead by the end of the first quarter.
Derrick Jones Jr. came off the bench in the second quarter, delivering a ferocious poster jam on Jonas Valanciunas to get Miami’s offense back on track, only for Morant to answer back with a quick layup for Memphis. The Heat chipped away at the Grizzlies’ lead with free throws from Winslow, Olynyk, and Adebayo, only for Morant and Kyle Anderson to make a layup each for Memphis. With the Grizzlies leading 38 to 36, the Heat would go on a fifteen to four run, before Jaren Jackson Jr. would end it with a layup, followed by another layup from Tyus Jones and a three-pointer from Jae Crowder. With Memphis leading 45 to 42, they would close the second quarter on a fifteen to six run, taking a 60 to 54 lead by halftime.
Kendrick Nunn, who made quite an impression in the Heat’s final preseason game by recording 40 points, made a three-point play to get Miami going in the third quarter, followed by another bucket from Herro, but Memphis would answer back with a layup from Valanciunas and a free throw from Morant. Winslow would tie the game at 63 with a layup for Miami, only for Crowder to take back the lead for Memphis with a three-pointer. With the Grizzlies holding a 68 to 67 lead, Adebayo would knock down three free throws to put the Heat out in front, only for Jackson Jr., Tyus Jones, and Brandon Clarke to keep the Grizzlies in front once more, now holding a 77 to 75 lead. Goran Dragic would come off the bench for Miami, knocking down a few three-pointers and layups to cut further into Memphis’ lead. By the end of the third quarter, the Grizzlies led 84 to 83.
As the fourth quarter commenced, Winslow knocked down a three-pointer and a mid-range jumper to put Miami out in front, followed by a basket from undrafted rookie Chris Silva for good measure. With the Heat leading 90 to 86, they would go on a twenty-four to one run, led by Winslow, Silva, and Nunn, before Morant ended the run with a free throw and breakaway dunk. The Heat would close things out on a thirteen to eleven run, winning soundly over the Grizzlies with a 120-101 victory.
This game started off rather ugly and very down and dirty with the turnovers and fouls in the first half. While on the subject of turnovers, Memphis committed 24 turnovers to Miami’s 21. Things smoothed over in the second half when Dragic came off the bench and took over, allowing Miami to take command of the game until the final buzzer sounded. If the Heat want to have a successful 2019-2020 season, they will have to limit the turnovers, which cost them some key games last season. The Heat shot 47 percent from the field compared to the Grizzlies, who only made 42 percent.
For the Memphis Grizzlies, Jaren Jackson Jr. had 17 points, Tyus Jones made 15 points, Ja Morant with 14 points, and Jae Crowder made 13 points.
For the Miami Heat Justise Winslow led the way with 27 points, Kendrick Nunn making his Heat debut with 24 points, Goran Dragic had 19 points, Tyler Herro making his Heat debut with 14 points, and Bam Adebayo with a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds.
The Miami Heat hit the road when they face the Milwaukee Bucks. Game starts Saturday at 5pm and will be televised locally on Sun Sports and nationally on NBATV.