Behind a gutsy team effort and a subpar performance from MVP LeBron James, the Utah Jazz stunned the defending NBA champion Miami Heat in a 94-89 victory. From start to finish, it may have been the best Jazz performance of their season.
The odds were against the Jazz coming into the game. They were playing the second of a back-to-back and had arrived back in Salt Lake City early Saturday morning. Meanwhile, Miami's last game was Wednesday. But it was Utah that controlled the tone and pace of the game.
The Jazz seemed amped up for their lone home game versus the Heat. They came out with energy, and everyone who played contributed in a team effort. Utah was making the extra pass and as a result, everyone was involved on both ends of the court. It ultimately produced a big win that brought the Jazz to a 17-33 record.
Marvin’s magic: Marvin Williams has been an integral cog for Utah this season and has adapted well to playing the stretch four position. This has not been more evident than the past few games where it could be argued that Williams has been the Jazz’s best player.
Like Friday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks, he came out shooting and hitting. Williams tallied 12 quick first-quarter points and continued to make big shots as the game progressed. He ended up going 9 of 1 from the floor, including five treys. Williams led the Jazz with 23 points.
King James: LeBron James is among the greatest to ever play the game, but even the greatest have some difficult outings. Saturday was one for James as he never seemed to be into the flow of the game. And when a team’s best player struggles, in many cases, so does his team.
As is the situation most nights, James encountered different defenders throughout the game. Marvin Williams, Gordon Hayward and Richard Jefferson all took turns defending him, each doing an admirable job. They got physical and did what they could to make things difficult for James. He was not as aggressive as he normally is, as the stat line illustrates. James went just 4 of 13 from the floor and made only one of six 3-point attempts. He also missed a crucial free throw down the stretch. James finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while also turning the ball over five times.
Odds and ends:
• Gordon Hayward’s shot may have been errant, but he contributed in many ways. The swingman doled out a game-high 11 assists and grabbed nine rebounds.
• Spawned by Hayward’s facilitating, 23 of Utah’s 36 field goals were assisted, including 11 of the first 13 shots made.
• Chris Bosh was also quiet, going 3 of 12 en route to 13 points.
• After going scoreless in Dallas, Alec Burks rebounded with a 12-point outing.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also writes for Salt City Hoops (ESPN's Jazz affiliate). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.
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