Utah Jazz report card: Gordon Hayward, Al Jefferson lead Jazz to big win over Miami
Tom Smart, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — The Jazz hadn't quite figured out how to handle a big lead during games until Monday night against Miami. Previously, they had endured a loss on the road to the Hawks after leading by 15 and a loss at home to the Clippers after leading by 17. But despite nearly giving up another big lead, the Jazz pulled out a victory over Lebron James and the Heat, 104-97.
Al Jefferson led the Jazz with 23 points and 11 rebounds and Gordon Hayward added 22 points. James led all scorers with 32 points.
GUARDS: Jamaal Tinsely started at point guard and played 31 minutes. The veteran guard dished out seven assists and hit one 3-pointer. Tinsley did have five turnovers on the night. Earl Watson played just nine minutes and had little production to go with it. GRADE: B+.
FORWARDS: Paul Millsap began the game strong and finished with 17 points and nine rebounds. Marvin Williams played 33 minutes coming off a banged-up knee and not playing at all during a three-game road trip. Williams was a defensive presence but probably shouldn't have played 33 minutes. He finished with five points on 2-of-8 shooting. GRADE: B+.
CENTERS: Jefferson played a great game against an undersized Miami frontcourt. He pulled down four offensive rebounds, which all led to second-chance points. GRADE: B+.
BENCH: The bench played a great game as it accounted for 47 of Utah's 104 points. Hayward and DeMarre Carroll had the best nights off the bench, with Hayward particularly shining. He finished with 22 points, including a dagger behind-the-back, right-to-left jumper from the top of the key over Ray Allen with just over 40 seconds to go to put the Jazz up eight. Carroll had 12 points in the first half and finished with the same amount on the night, but his scoring early set the pace for the Jazz, who scored 59 points in the first half. GRADE: A.
OVERALL: The Jazz held on to win after having a 21-point lead despite a furious rally by the Heat. The Jazz capitalized on Miami's small frontcourt and benefited from a off night by Dwayne Wade. The Jazz have 14 of the next 19 games at home and will hope to take advantage of a stretch where they can pick up some momentum and launch into the playoff picture. Miami is arguably the best team in the Eastern Conference and despite the fact the Heat are in the midst of a monster road trip, a win for the Jazz is a great sign. GRADE: A-.
Tyler Huskinson is a freelance journalist who loves to cover sports. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @TDHuskiSports.
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