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Miami Heat 82 - Utah Jazz 79 Game Recap: Bryce Cotton almost single-handedly beat the Heat!

Cotton: the fabric of our lives.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Did you happen to watch last night's game? The Utah Jazz and the Miami Heat sleepwalked through a game where it was essentially Bryce Cotton vs. Shabazz Napier for 30 minutes before it got exciting. Sure, the Utah Jazz fell in their first game in Las Vegas 82-79, but it was a game we can learn from. And that's the common idea we have to look at when we watch these games. The Utah Jazz brass are evaluating not just talent, but also coaches, assistants, game planning, practices, and in game adjustments. We just look at it for wins and losses and for how well our players perform. That's not the purpose of this NBA event. The purpose is for all of that other boring stuff. We just want to watch dunks and finish the game with more points. Last night the Jazz didn't do that. But while the team fell, the franchise got a little better.

Miami went without Justise Winslow, and Utah went without Dante Exum, and Rodney Hood. Effectively, it was more about who didn't play than who did. And that's why it's true, yes, they sell tickets to this thing -- but it's really an event to get data from. Games-wise it wasn't that exciting. There was a lot of dribbling and ineffectual dribble penetration by both sides, and a lot of bricked threes. The Heat went 3/16 from outside, while the Jazz went 6/23. Both teams also ended up shooting under 40% collectively, and did not take care of the ball. Miami was playing their fourth game in five nights, and the Jazz were playing their fourth game in six.

As a consequence, both teams didn't bring their A game, and didn't play their A team. There were a combined 60+ free throws attempted in a 40 minute game. It wasn't pretty. But it did get exciting down the stretch.

The Heat were in cruise control because they only had to defend one guy, and were on their way to a victory when the Jazz rallied back. Bryce Cotton was on fire, and found so many ways to get to the rim or get to the line. He had some help from Chris Johnson and Trey Lyles, but not even hyper efficient Jack Cooley or a dunking Brock Motum were able to get the Jazz over the hump.

It really was the Bryce Cotton vs. Shabazz Napier show, though. They both went to the line over 10 times in that game, and would go right at one another. As a measuring stick game this shows that Cotton is better than just a garbage time player; but he's capable of proving himself against actual NBA bench players. This game, regardless of the outcome, gives us the data we need in order to support the theory that Cotton is ready to be a regular NBA rotation player.

His 28 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 steal forms some pretty good evidence. He also went 2/6 from downtown and went 10/11 from the line. I think he also showed how valuable he is to this summer league squad. Their success or failure will ride on him going forward.

In other news, J.J. O'Brien continues to play good defense, but didn't make any shots. Chris Johnson didn't shoot as well as he normally does, but still was a +16 in a close game. And Olivier Hanlan was less awful; though I do not think he makes this team. I am not starting to wonder if he even gets a training camp invite.

The Jazz play next on Monday against the Minnesota Timberwolves.