We got the ball in the best player's hands going to the basket, and I don't think we'd do anything different than that. —Quin Snyder
SALT LAKE CITY — This was certainly not how most folks envisioned Utah's winning streak would come to an end.
Not on a night when the Jazz were playing at home against a Miami team that came to town with a lousy 6-12 record and was playing the second game of a back-to-back.
Not on a night when the Jazz shot well over 50 percent from the field, including a superb 56.7-percent efficiency (17 of 30) from 3-point range.
And not on a night when the Vivint Arena crowd was raucously rockin' down the stretch, pleading with the home team to pull out a come-from-behind victory.
But Gordon Hayward, who finished with a game-high 32 points, missed a pull-up jumper in the lane just before the final buzzer, and Rudy Gobert's putback basket came a fraction of a second too late as the Heat came away with a tense 111-110 victory that snapped Utah's four-game winning streak.
"It just shows you, defensively, how important that end of the floor is," Utah coach Quin Snyder said after the disappointing defeat. "A lot of the shots we made, we made coming back. And it's good to make some shots, but ultimately we have to get stops. And we did (on their) last possession, but we couldn't convert.
"I wouldn't say it's a wasted effort as much as it is we didn't play defensively the way that we need to to win. And that's the part that we can control. To the extent that we wasted a good shooting night, that's where shooting can only take you so far."
On a night when both of Utah's starting guards, George Hill (toe) and Rodney Hood (hamstring), were sidelined by injuries, Hayward had a game-high seven assists to go along with his game-high 32 points.
And he'd take that last shot he missed every darned day of the week.
"I wanted to come get the basketball, try to find a look," he said. "It felt like they played decent defense on it. I had to hang in the air a little bit longer than I wanted to and then missed the shot. But I want to take that shot 100 out of 100 times, so glad I got a look."
Joe Johnson, moved into the starting lineup in Hood's absence, added 18 points on the strength of four 3-pointers. Ingles contributed 15 points, four rebounds and four assists off Utah's bench, which also got 14 points, including four more 3s from Trey Lyles, and 11 points, five assists and five rebounds from Shelvin Mack.
But Snyder bemoaned a night when it appeared his team, now 11-9, coulda, woulda, shoulda come away with a win.
"We got a shot, and we got a putback that was after the buzzer," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said tersely after the disappointing defeat, frustrated by the amount of time (3.9 seconds) officials kept on the clock after Joe Ingles came up with a loose ball and quickly called a timeout to set the stage for Utah's last-gasp, in-bounds play. "(Hayward) turned the corner and got the ball and got a good look.
"... We got the ball in the best player's hands going to the basket, and I don't think we'd do anything different than that.
"We thought there was more time on the game clock going into the last possession," he said.
Goran Dragic led Miami with 27 points and six assists, and he scored 14 of those points in a masterful fourth-quarter display. James Johnson came in off the Heat bench to score 24 — he came into the contest averaging 9.6 ppg — on slick 11-of-15 shooting. He also had six rebounds to help the Heat to a 46-37 advantage on the boards. Wayne Ellington also scored 17 points off the bench for Miami.
"Both teams laid it out on the line," said Miami coach Erik Spoelstra. "... You had big players making big plays down the stretch. Obviously Goran Dragic in the fourth quarter was terrific. James Johnson was making plays all over the floor.
"On their end it seemed like Gordon Hayward, every time he had any kind of daylight, he was capitalizing. It wasn't as if we weren't there; it wasn't like he was playing against shootaround defense. We were trying to get into him, make it tough."
The battle between Utah's Rudy Gobert and Miami's Hassan Whiteside, two of the league's best young big men, was pretty much a standoff. They each had 10 rebounds, with Whiteside scoring nine points, while Gobert scored six but blocked three shots.
Miami scored a whopping 64 points in the paint compared to just 30 for Utah, a glaring, decisive difference that Snyder blamed on Utah's blase' defensive performance.
"Collectively and individually, we weren't able to keep people in front of us," he said. "And in pick and roll situations, we lacked physicality early in the game.
"We didn't deserve to win the game. Miami outplayed us. You can point to certain things, but by the time we woke up defensively, it was late and we had to expend a lot of energy, and then you put yourself in a tough position."
In the second quarter, a 19-2 Miami run vaulted the Heat ahead by 14 points, 50-36, as the Jazz managed just two points over a shaky five-minute stretch.
But then Joe Johnson hit a jumper, Lyles buried a pair of 3-pointers, sandwiched around a drive by Mack, and Gobert scored a putback basket in a 12-2 run to close out the half, pulling the Jazz within 52-48 at halftime.
Miami maintained an 83-77 lead entering the fourth quarter, and the Heat held a nine-point margin, 105-96, with 5:29 remaining to play before the Jazz mounted a valiant comeback.5 comments on this story
Joe Johnson started Utah's rally with a 3, and then Ingles drove for a pair of layups, sandwiched around a Hayward jumper in a 9-2 run that pulled the Jazz within 107-105.
After Dragic's pull-up basket, another 3 by Joe Johnson cut the gap to just a point, 109-108, but James Johnson drove for a dunk before Hayward hit a jumper to make it 111-110 with a minute to go.
Dragic and Hayward each missed shots in that final minute of play, setting the stage for the final, frantic few seconds.
"Once we got competitive, then we were in the game, but we didn't win the game," said Snyder, whose team stays home to host the Denver Nuggets on Saturday.