The Utah Jazz were almost able to reach .500 as they closed out a six game road trip Monday night in Miami. The Jazz played a very competitive game and almost walked out of American Airlines Arena with a win but ran out of steam in the 4th quarter. The Miami Heat looked uninspired for the first three quarters but you can never count out a team that is led by the always passionate Jimmy Butler.
For the Heat, even though they looked a bit sluggish at times during this game they did get off to a fast start and led the Jazz by seven after one quarter. That lead evaporated during the second quarter though and it looked like the Heat were going to sleepwalk there way to a loss at home. Guard Jimmy Butler lead the charge in the second half, ending with 24 points and 8 rebounds. Total 7 Heat players chipped in by scoring in double figures, including all five starters. The key for the Heat winning this game is the way that they played down the stretch, specifically in the last 5 minutes. Miami tied an NBA record tonight with their 24th win in games decided by 5 points or less.
For the Jazz, Lauri Markkanen continues to show why he should be the runaway for the most improved player award. One game after arguably the shooting game of his career and Markkanen puts up 38 points on over 50% shooting and nails six threes as well. Unfortunately, it turned out to be kind of a “top heavy” kind of game for Utah though as the only other starter in double figures tonight was Ochai Agbaji. Understandable considering that this game comes at the end of a long road trip. Add that to the fact that they Jazz competed hard and put themselves in a position to win makes for a good moral victory.
The Heat will try to start a win streak as they host the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday, while the Jazz return home to start a four game homestand against the Boston Celtics on Saturday. With 12 games to go, there will be a lot of intrigue down the stretch to see if the Jazz make it to the play-in or slide down and go for the tank. It will be fun either way to watch as the season winds down, GO JAZZ!!