MIAMI -- The early returns in his candidacy for March Player of the Month were shaky, to say the least.
Hours earlier named NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Month for the fourth time in as many months this season, there stood LeBron James, 1 of 9 from the field in the fourth quarter, yet to reach his traditional double-figure scoring quota.
No, this was not typical LeBron and certainly not typical Miami Heat, at least what the Heat had shown in carrying a 12-game winning streak into this one.
But this could be very typical of what things look like in the playoffs, which, to a degree made this 98-91 victory Friday night over the Memphis Grizzlies at AmericanAirlines Arena a bit more meaningful than the previous 12.
In extending their winning streak to 13, one shy of the franchise record set in the Dwyane Wade-Shaquille O'Neal days, the Heat found a way to win on a night James shot 4 of 14 for 18 points.
Through it all, James extended his streak of double-figure games to 475, a streak that started after an eight-point performance while with the Cleveland Cavaliers against the Milwaukee Bucks on Jan. 5, 2007.
For all of his struggles, no shot in the game was bigger than the 3-pointer James hit with 24.2 seconds to play that put the Heat up 93-89.
Earlier, with his first point, James became just the fourth player to reach 1,500 points in each of his first 10 seasons, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elvin Hayes, Oscar Robertson and Wilt Chamberlain.
James' struggles were somewhat of a surprise. He entered at .522 from the field over his career against the Grizzlies, his third-best percentage against any opponent.
But Dwyane Wade scoring 22 points and Shane Battier and Ray Allen loading up on 3-pointers, the Heat were able to keep the Grizzlies from joining the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks as teams to have beaten the Heat twice this season.
The Heat, in fact, will now look to tie the franchise's longest winning streak Sunday in a nationally televised game at Madison Square Garden against the Knicks, in the third game of that four-game season series.
Center Marc Gasol led the Grizzlies with 24 points and nine rebounds, with All-Star forward Zach Randolph adding 14 points for Memphis.
The Grizzlies entered on an eight-game winning streak. The last time teams met with eight-game streaks or longer was Dec. 15, 2010, when the Boston Celtics beat Knicks.
Asked if he was impressed by such streaks, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said pregame, "Probably, if I gave that some thought."
The Grizzlies entered 3-1 against Heat since James and Chris Bosh joined Wade in the 2010 offseason, the best winning percentage against the Heat over that span.
With James putting up an airball on a 3-point attempt and Wade then missing a pair of free throws, the Grizzlies were able to tie it 85-85 with 2:44 to play.
That's when Bosh stepped up with a 3-point play and James then fed Wade for a transition dunk for a 90-85 lead with 2:20 to play.
A pair of Gasol free throws followed to draw Memphis within 90-87. The Heat then reset off a Battier offensive rebound of a Wade miss at the 24-second clock, only to commit a 24-second violation that gave Memphis possession within three with 64 seconds to play.
Gasol then hit a driving scoop shot just before the expiration of the shot clock on the other end to draw Memphis within 90-89, only to see James, 3 of 13 to that point, hit his 3-pointer with 24.2 seconds to play to put the Heat up 93-89.
James opened 1 of 9, making a 3-pointer to open the Heat's scoring and then missing his next eight shots.
His second basket came on a alley-oop feed in transition from Norris Cole with 9:17 to play that pushed the Heat to a 70-66 lead, with neither team up by more than seven to that point.
The highlight of the first three quarters was a 75-foot pass from James that hit Wade at the opposite rim for a layup that put the Heat up 59-58. It came at a stage when James was 1 of 5 from the field.
From the Grizzlies' perspective, the third-quarter highlights came from reserve guard Quincy Pondexter, who first hit a jumper with Allen in his face to beat the 24-second clock and then completed a 4-point play when fouled by Allen while converting a 3-pointer.
Through those plays and continuing solid defense by both teams, the Heat took a 67-66 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Heat led 42-41 at halftime, despite James shooting 1 of 4 for four points over the first two periods. Wade helped pick up some of the slack with 10 first-half points, but it barely was enough to overcome 10 points apiece from Gasol and Randolph in the opening two periods.
The four points were a first-half low for James this season. His previous low had been six in the first half in Houston, when he scored 32 in the second half.
The Heat entered with victories in their previous 37 home games when leading at halftime, the league's longest such streak.
With both teams living up to their defensive reputations, the Grizzlies took a 20-16 lead into the second period.
The Heat appeared to stand within 20-19 at the close of the first quarter, but a video review between periods showed the first of Allen's two 3-pointers in the first quarter came after the expiration of the 24-second clock.
While the Heat were only 6 of 19 from the field in the first quarter, James still managed four assists in the quarter. It would have been five had Allen's first 3-pointer not been disallowed.
Spoelstra was forced to alter his rotation with point guard Mario Chalmers called for his second foul 2:12 into the game.
There was early concern for the Grizzlies, when Randolph rolled his ankle on Memphis' opening possession. Randolph stayed in the game and had five points and four rebounds in the first quarter.
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