In one of the best games of the season, the Utah Jazz made a late push to nearly overcome a late deficit but came up short against the Miami Heat, 115-118.
The Miami Heat and Utah Jazz are two of the best teams in the league and this game showed just how good each team can be. The Miami Heat showed some incredible shotmaking, especially from Kyle Lowry and Tyler Herro. Lowry had a monster triple-double with 20 points on 8/11 shooting with 12 rebounds and 10 assists. Herro, who is looking like the runaway favorite for Sixth Man of the Year, had 29 points on 11/18 shooting and 6/8 from three. Those two were huge for the Heat seemingly able to score whenever they wanted. Not to mention Jimmy Butler who poured in 27 points of his own on 11/15 shooting from the field. Oh and that Bam Adebayo guy? He had 17 points on 7/12 shooting with 6 assists and 6 rebounds. This Heat team is really, really good and they showed tonight that if you are not playing at your best, they’re going to be tough to beat.
And yet, the Jazz lost by just 3 points.
Mainly, Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell was masterful tonight scoring 37 points with 7 assists. At the end of the game, he was dicing up the Heat and willed the Jazz back into the game. In an interesting move, Quin Snyder kept Rudy Gobert off the floor and ended the game with Whiteside, and it worked. Whiteside for the game was +17 which absolutely coincided with Donovan Mitchell’s +12. In a 3-point loss, that’s an interesting swing. Speaking of Gobert, this may have been Rudy Gobert’s worst game of the season. In 28 minutes Gobert had 8 points and 8 rebounds. It looked like the physicality of Adebayo and PJ Tucker really knocked Gobert out of his game. Adebayo would switch off of Gobert and Tucker made it a point to not give Gobert any sort of inside position and Gobert didn’t seem interested in too much of a fight tonight.
Now, it wasn’t just Gobert, the Jazz have a little bit of a Joe Ingles problem. For 21 minutes Ingles was scoreless until he finally hit a 3 midway through the 4th quarter. He did have 5 assists but he felt mostly invisible while he was on the floor. It might be time to start giving Ingles some rest because he’s already looking tired. And after a fun night against a Hawks team that is, frankly, not playing well, Jordan Clarkson put up another rough shooting night from three going 1/6. For the season Clarkson is shooting 22%. At some point that will turn around but on nights when he’s shooting like this against good teams, it’s hard to overcome.
As far as bright spots for the Jazz, Bogdanovic is appearing to shoot the ball more consistently. He shot 2/5 from three tonight, punished Herro in the post on switches, and made good plays on defense. Probably one of the biggest bright spots for the Jazz has been Royce O’Neale who is quietly having a fantastic year. Tonight O’Neale was 3/4 from three with 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 6 steals. At times he looks like Rodman with a three with how much defending and rebounding he does. He’s turned himself into such an invaluable part of this Jazz team and I love how quick he is to pull the trigger on his three.
I mentioned this in the game thread for this one but the Jazz have to figure out how to evolve from these games. What do the Jazz take from this? Do they feel like they were good enough? Are there strategies they should try? Maybe a trap on Herro at some point? Maybe a substitution? Quin Snyder did leave Whiteside in and that worked well, but there has to be something they take from these so that as they go through this season they’re improving and not just sitting on their hands waiting for the playoffs. Rudy Gay will be coming back soon, and that may be the answer, but it feels like the Jazz are one piece away from being able to win it all. That’s probably the biggest takeaway from this game for me. This Heat team had a phenomenal night and beat the Jazz by 3 at home. The Jazz are really, really good. What can they do to get that extra edge? We’ll find out as the season rolls on.