Brian Nicholson, Deseret News
It was a game full of emotion, dramatics, ups and downs, intensity, atmosphere and tremendous play by both teams.
When the buzzer sounded, the gritty Utah Jazz edged the highly publicized juggernaut Miami Heat 99-98 on Devin Harris’ three-point play with 4.5 seconds left. Udonis Haslem’s last-second jump shot clanked off the win, securing one of Utah’s most impressive victories of the season. In winning their second straight game, Utah snapped Miami’s nine-game winning streak.
It was an outing that featured some dazzling streak — the Jazz dominating the first half and then Miami in the second, as the Heat stormed back to take the lead in the final minute. After a pair of difficult jumpers by Miami’s LeBron James, the Jazz found themselves down by two with 13 seconds to go. Taking a pass from a double-teamed Al Jefferson, Harris dribbled in and was fouled on an off-balanced floater that rolled in. His free throw provided the final margin for the Utah win.
Ballistic bench: For much of the second quarter, Utah head coach Tyrone Corbin utilized a lineup composed of Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors, C.J. Miles, Alec Burks and Earl Watson. This quintet injected life and momentum into the game for the Jazz. With their combination of athleticism, hustle, length and teamwork, these five helped Utah to dart out to a steady double-digit lead.
Each player positively impacted the game for Utah. Rookie center Kanter had one of his finest outings in his young career, putting 11 points and six rebounds on the board. He was extremely active and showed some adept post-up moves that resulted in a pair of integral baskets in the fourth quarter. He also was strong defensively.
Miles had his third consecutive strong outing since the All-Star break, tallying 14 points and five boards of his own. He had two strong putbacks off offensive rebounds in the second stanza.
Burks’ playing time was limited in the second half, but he managed to add six points in just eight minutes, including a pair of smooth perimeter shots.
Favors also had some nice defensive moments, including one crowd-pleasing blocked shot. And the veteran Watson was the catalyst for it all, doling out seven assists, along with his standard defensive effort.
LeBron passed: James was brilliant, with 35 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, but his stellar stat line will be overshadowed by his decision to pass the ball off to Haslem instead of opting to take the final shot himself. This follows a pattern of recent occasions where James has seemingly deferred in the waning moments of close games, rather than being the one who determined the game’s outcome.
- Utah displayed some solid passing tonight, dishing 22 assists to just 11 turnovers.
- Every Jazz reserve had a positive +/- Friday evening.
- Heat forward Shane Battier continued a pattern of Jazz opponents inflicting damage from outside, as the cagey veteran drained six of seven 3-point attempts.
- James and fellow superstar Dwyane Wade combined to score 66 of Miami’s 98 points.
David Smith is providing instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage this season. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also blogs for the Utah Jazz 360 website. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.
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