Everything pointed to another frustrating loss for the Heat.
Dwyane Wade couldn’t hit a shot. Goran Dragic was missing everything and turning the ball over. And the Memphis Grizzlies were shooting nearly 60 percent and leading by as many as 16 points in the third quarter.
But this is why the fourth quarter often means everything in the NBA. Behind eight fourth-quarter points from Wade — including a friendly bounce on his go-ahead jumper with 21.9 seconds left — the Heat rallied to beat the Grizzlies 100-97 on Sunday night and snap its three-game slide.
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“That was our best, frustrating win of the season,” coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Frustrating on so many levels, yet needed badly.
After looking slow, lethargic and headed for trouble following three consecutive double-digits losses to the Wizards, Hornets and Pacers, Miami (13-9) found itself right back in the same place for most of Sunday night.
When Michael Conley hit a short turnaround bucket in the paint with 2:53 remaining, Memphis looked like it had finally pushed the Heat away. But the Grizzlies (13-12) missed their final six shots.
On Memphis next-to-last possession, Conley’s bounce pass to Marc Gasol went awry and ended up in the hands of Justise Winslow, who was fouled after a scrum on the floor for the ball.
The rookie went to free-throw line and hit the game-sealing free throws with 0.7 seconds left.
“It’s not easy winning in this league. It requires us to put that forth type of effort,” Spoelstra said. “That last loose ball, it has to happen in the second minute of the game. It has to be that type of desperation to win.”
The Heat finally showed some of it late.
The Grizzlies shot 58.2 percent after three quarters but went 8 of 22 in the final quarter after the Heat stepped up its defense.
Wade, who finished 7 of 16 for 14 points, then put the Heat over the top.
After missing an off-balance jumper and then turning it over on a bounce pass to Luol Deng with less than two minutes to play, Wade made up for his mistakes on Miami’s next two possessions. He drove through the heart of the Grizzlies defense for a a finger roll to pull Miami within 97-96.
He then got a friendly roll on the go-ahead jump shot.
“I always want it in my hands in the deciding moments,” Wade said. “It’s not always going to be successful. I’m not always going to make the right decisions all the time. But that’s part of it. I’ll take it.”
Chris Bosh led Miami with 22 points, and and Gerald Green had 16 points off the bench, including three clutch free throws when he was fouled on a three-point shot with under a minute to play. Luol Deng added 15 points and seven rebounds.
But for all of their help, had the Heat not rallied to win late, all the talk would be about just how bad Dragic looked Sunday.
He finished 3 of 14 from the floor with eight points, eight assists and five turnovers in nearly 35 minutes of play. That followed up a five-point, five-turnover performance in a loss at Indiana on Friday.
Wade said he kept telling an often hesitant Dragic to “shoot the [expletive] ball.” He did, even as he kept fumbling all over himself Sunday.
“The struggles happen,” Bosh said. “You can either keep fighting or let it get to you. Guys have to know we have confidence in them every time he’s on the court. He is our point guard, and he needs to play well. Everybody is going to have a terrible game, month, week, whatever. It’s about how you bounce back.”
Sunday’s game started out as a homecoming for Mario Chalmers, who after spending seven-plus seasons with the Heat, was traded to the Grizzlies on Nov. 10 in a move to essentially lower Miami’s luxury tax bill.
During the first TV timeout of the game, the Heat played a near two-minute tribute video for Chalmers on the four large screens inside AmericanAirlines Arena. After the video was over, Chalmers, who was sitting on the Grizzlies bench, stood and acknowledged the crowd, which gave him a standing ovation.
“A lot of emotions,” Chalmers said afterward of the moment. “Being here so long and giving me a video like that, it was touching. It feels like they still love me.”
Heat center Hassan Whiteside’s streak of recording at least one block in 26 games came to an end Sunday.
“I can’t remember the last time that happened,” Whiteside said. “They did a great job of just staying away from me and making the extra pass.”
Monday: Heat at Hawks
When, where: 8 p.m., Phillips Arena, Atlanta.
TV, radio: SUN; WAXY (790), WAQI (710, Spanish).
Series: Heat leads 57-47.
Scouting report: The Hawks won their seventh in a row over the Heat 98-92 on Nov. 3. … The Heat was without Tyler Johnson (strained left shoulder) and Josh McRoberts (knee maintenance) for the second game in a row Sunday night.