The Miami Heat (7-12) won their second game in a row, and broke the Utah Jazz (11-9) four-game win streak by the slimmest of margins, 111-110. But that’s all it takes, a one point margin that these Heat fought for all game long. They earned it, beating the Jazz in the second and third quarters, and holding off a mad rush at the end of the game.
To set the table, both teams were without three starters (Chris Bosh vs. Derrick Favors, Josh Richardson vs. George Hill, and Justise Winslow vs. Rodney Hood) and a bench shooting guard who scores (Dion Waiters vs. Alec Burks). Obviously, Hill is having a much bigger impact on his team than Richardson, but thems the breaks. NO one is going to give you anything in the NBA. And on this night is was the Heat who took it to the Jazz, and left with a win.
Early on we had expected this to be a Hassan Whiteside against Rudy Gobert kind of night. But Rudy had his number from the beginning of the game and if not for some nice drives from Goran Dragic and Tyler Johnson (drawing in the defense), Hassan wouldn’t have scored as many points as he did. He got nothing on post ups or one on one against our Gobzilla. But I’d have to say they pretty much neutralized one another. Whiteside had 9 points on 11 shots. Gobert 6 points on four. Both had 10 rebounds. Miami’s bigman added a steal, while Utah got an assist and three blocks from their starter. If you care about +/- it was +4 for Rudy to -1 for Hassan.
But that wasn’t what determined this game at all.
For long stretches the Jazz looked listless. They shot really well, for the second straight game at that, .548 .567 .765, but they did not play with energy or urgency except for the end of the second and fourth quarters. Yes, Quin Snyder’s club set a new franchise record for made three points (17/30) but not for floor burns.
Moreover, Miami forced the Jazz into 11 turn overs in a 85.0 possession game, and scored 20 points off of that. The Heat also scored 64 points in the paint and finished with an ORTG of 130.6. They got to the line more than Utah did (in Utah), and outworked Utah on the glass (again, in Utah). Miami had 40 rebounds with 13 offensive, while Utah only had 31 total.
It was a game won by the scrappier, hungrier team. And tonight that was Miami for sure. They ran their sets, and caused havoc by sharing the ball and fighting every step of the way. Sure, Goran Dragic had 27 points, but it really was the 24 from James Johnson, 17 from Wayne Ellington, and 9 from Rodney McGruder that hurt the Jazz more. Those three guys may not even be in the NBA in two seasons. But tonight they showed that in a game where both teams needed someone to step up because of all the injuries — that they were ready to heed the call.
James Johnson was phenomenal at times. And in a game where opposing small forward Gordon Hayward finishes with 32 points and 7 rebounds, Johnson was still looking like the best player on the court for important stretches of the second half. Johnson would finish with the previously mentioned 24 points (off of 15 shots), while adding 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 threes, 1 steal, 1 block, and most importantly, the W.
I’m going to say it, Dante Exum, Boris Diaw, and Raul Neto all played poorly tonight. Some guys did their jobs, like Joe Ingles and Jeff Withey. Shelvin Mack went on a solid run to salvage what looked to be another “That’s So Shelvin” game. But Exum, Diaw, and Neto did not step up when the lights were on them. I can excuse Raul because his first playing time in the entire game (and in weeks) came late in the 3rd quarter. And he only played seven total minutes. That’s at worst an “incomplete” grade even if Dragic smoked him.
I can make excuses for Exum too. And I probably will later. He was either a little too tentative, passive, or pass-first on his drives which resulted in four of the Jazz’ 11 turn overs. That’s not a big number for Exum or the Jazz -- but for the slow pace of play and the one point final margin, errors like this hurt more.
Boris Diaw? More like “Slow Loris” and then something that rhymes with Diaw. (I’m not a very punny guy.)
I’d really like to see Joel Bolomboy actually play basketball. Right now he just has a really good fan experience getting front row seats, he gets to have meals with the players, and gets to go on the team plane. He can’t be worse than Diaw right now, who went 0-4, had 1 rebound, 1 turn over, and 2 fouls. One of which was of the ‘clear path’ variety.
The team shot well, set a record, Hayward dropped 32, Joe Johnson had 18, Joe Ingles 15, Trey Lyles added 14. And this team still lost. Sure, this was a winnable game. But in reality they should have won this game. And not on a buzzer beater, but in the second quarter.
AND THAT’S WHY YOU ALWAYS LEAVE A NOTE!
Oh sorry, this isn’t my Arrested Development blog. This is the Jazz blog.
AND THAT’S WHY YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO HUSTLE OUT THERE.
The Jazz have the next night off, and will host the Denver Nuggets on Saturday Night.
PS. I’m not even going to bring up the refs tonight in this post. But we’ll see what they have to say.
In the pool reporter process, Ed Malloy and crew declined to answer a question about the Joe Johnson rebound noncall at the end of the game.— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) December 2, 2016
And before this gets deleted: