Utah Jazz: Paul Millsap's 46 help Jazz beat Heat in OT, 116-114
MIAMI — LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were all on the court Tuesday night during an NBA game for the ages.
But all anybody could talk about during and after this classic at AmericanAirlines Arena was Miss Bettye's son.
Also known as Paul Millsap, the former NCAA rebounding champion, the current Miami Heat-killer, the new 2011 3-point-shooting contest frontrunner, Carlos Boozer's more-than-capable replacement and, on this night, the man, the myth, the legend.
Millsap — or Miss Bettye's son, as his teammates lovingly call him — had a performance so epic that it overshadowed Miami's All-Star trio.
The latest, greatest power forward out of Louisiana Tech scored a career-high 46 points and fueled the Jazz's comeback fire as Utah rallied from down 22 to outlast and shock the Heat with a thrilling 116-114 overtime victory.
"We just kept chipping away, chipping away," Jazz point guard Deron Williams said of the comeback that included being down by eight with 37.3 seconds remaining in regulation. "Miss Bettye's son, that's Paul Millsap if y'all don't know, just carried us, put us on his back. Just the way he played was great. It was brilliant. His back's going to be hurting tomorrow from carrying us."
And Millsap's mouth might join his aching ankle and hip in pain and hurt from smiling.
"It is speechless to be down like that to a team like this in a hostile environment and come out with a win," Millsap said. "We clawed our way out of there. But that says a lot about our team."
And this one, according to Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, said a lot about Millsap.
"He shows you what he's about. That's one of the things, when it gets tough he doesn't quit working," Sloan said. "That's why he's gotten to be better and works at the game to make himself better.
"How many people," the Hall of Fame coach added, "would've thought three years ago or four years ago he would be able to make three 3-point shots in a row?"
Teammates said they knew. They see him hit threes in practice against them every day. And anybody who witnessed his sizzling shooting from outside in this one is a believer now.
After scoring 31 points in three quarters before leaving with a bruised hip, Millsap saved his best for the end of regulation when he drilled three 3-pointers in a 26-second span and then sent the game to overtime with a save-the-day putback at the buzzer.
"It takes some special plays in order for us to be in the game," Jazz guard Ronnie Price said, "and Miss Bettye's son was special tonight."
This one took multiple special players and plays, though.
Though Williams sat out the overtime, he sparked the Jazz in the second half and ended with 21 points and 14 assists. Andrei Kirilenko chipped in 16 points, C.J. Miles broke out of a slump to add a dozen points, while reserve role players Price and Kyrylo Fesenko had invaluable performances down the stretch in helping the Jazz win a game they really had no business winning because of the talent they were facing and the way they had been playing.
"We do have fight in us," said Jazz center Francisco Elson, who hit the game-winning free throws at the end of overtime.
The beginning of the game was as brutal as the end was brilliant for the Jazz. South Beach party animals miles away had to be fearful of getting nailed by the clangs and clunkers Utah players were hucking up at the hoop.
Before LeBron James' powder had a chance to clear the arena air, the Jazz were trailing 22-7 thanks to a 15-0 run by the sizzling Heat.
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