SALT LAKE CITY — Plan the parade. Grab some party favors. Get your scrapbook ready for another page or two.
The Utah Jazz pulled off the stunner of the season, defeating the two-time defending champion Miami Heat 94-89 Saturday night at EnergySolutions Arena.
Got that route mapped yet?
Considering how this rough rebuilding year has gone and in light of the Jazz’s no-show in Dallas on Friday night, this victory over LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and crew does seem worthy of some extra celebrating.
“Our locker room should be excited about the effort that they gave tonight,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said a night after admitting his team was “outworked” in an ugly 103-81 loss to the Mavericks. “And they should be excited about the great win.”
The non-bandwagon fans, the ones actually rooting for the now 17-33 home team, in the arena sure were.
The Jazz haven’t had that many wins, period, let alone very many great wins, but this one certainly tops the list of season accomplishments, even above last month’s exciting 112-101 home win over Oklahoma City.
“Definitely the top three. Outside of that first one (of the season), I can’t think of a bigger win than this one,” Jazz forward Marvin Williams, one of the game’s heroes, said while referring to Utah’s 111-105 win over New Orleans that ended a season-opening eight-game losing streak.
“The guys really responded from last night and it’s a good feeling to come back and play like that.”
By doing so, the Jazz snapped their four-game losing skid while ending the Heat’s three-game winning streak.
Surprisingly, Utah took a 14-point first-quarter lead and controlled the momentum for most of the night, even fending off a late-game surge by a Heat team that had a shockingly subpar game from its Big Three.
James, who usually lights up the Jazz even more than other NBA teams, had a season-low 13 points. That’s all Bosh scored, too, and they combined to hit just 7 of 25 shots. Wade was the only one of the three who had a good night, finishing with 19 points.
“We never could get over that hump,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Particularly from that first quarter where they really jumped us and blitzed us and used their energy and youth and athleticism to take that double-digit lead.
“But at the end of the day,” he continued, “we still had some plays to make down the stretch and they made more of them.”
In doing so, the Jazz showed Miami what’s hotter than Heat right now.
That’d be Williams.
The Jazz power forward tied his season-high of 23 points and hit five 3-pointers for the second night in a row.
Williams had back-to-back 3-pointers in the fourth quarter as the Jazz opened up an eight-point lead. The second of those deep shots came as Williams twisted around and unleashed an off-balanced attempt that snapped the nets after the shot clock expired and put Utah up 87-79 with 3:34 remaining.
“That 3 Marvin Williams hit at the end of the shot clock hurt us a little bit as we were making our run,” Wade said. “We still had a chance to come back, and we gave ourselves a chance to win. From that stance, we did our job. We just didn’t come out with the victory.”
Trey Burke made sure of that.
Showing the poise he displayed last year while leading Michigan to the NCAA championship game, Burke coolly sank a mid-range jumper with 24.2 seconds remaining to give the Jazz a more comfortable four-point lead after a Ray Allen 3-pointer brought Miami within two.
“The coaches trusted me. The players trusted me,” Burke said. “I felt like some of the shots that I usually make weren’t falling tonight and haven’t been falling the past couple of games. But they continue to come to me and tell me to play — play with confidence. Don’t think about it, just play freely. That’s what I did tonight.”
Surprisingly, the Heat didn’t.
Allen, Wade, James and Bosh all missed shots in the final 20 seconds as Miami fell for the third straight time in Utah.
In the loss, the Heat scored 15 points below their season average and only shot 43.3 percent — and that after hitting a franchise-record 63.4 percent against Utah in a 117-94 blowout in Miami in December.
“We played well enough defensively to win the game,” James said. “Offensively, we didn’t shoot the ball well like we are capable of doing. That is what it came down to.”13 comments on this story
NOTES: Shooting guard Gordon Hayward flirted with a triple-double, amassing 11 assists, nine points and nine rebounds. ... Williams has now scored at least 20 points in three straight games. Utah has a 20-8 record against Miami at home. ... The Jazz don't play again until visiting Staples Center for a showdown with the Lakers on Tuesday. ... Miami beat the Clippers in L.A. on Wednesday and traveled to Utah on Friday while the Jazz played in Dallas. ... Utah improved to 14-2 when leading after three quarters.