For one half, the Utah Jazz not only kept up with the Miami Heat but actually held the advantage. In the second half, Miami reminded them that they are the two-time defending champions. After a somewhat lackluster first half, the Heat dialed it up and ran away with an easy 117-94 win.
Thanks to a spirited performance for Utah’s bench, the first half was very evenly played. In the second half, Miami just took off. Its offense was a direct result of its suffocating defense. The Heat rotated extremely well, played the passing lanes and forced the Jazz to a number of long, ill-advised jumpers. In seemingly the blink of an eye, the game was out of reach just a few minutes into the third quarter.
This was the first of Utah’s five-game Christmastime road trips.
The Big Three: On Monday, Miami’s trio of superstars did exactly what superstars tend to do: they dominated. Coming into the game, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were averaging 58.1 points per game. After facing the Jazz, that average went up.
James played like the most valuable player that he is, connecting on 13 of 17 shots from the floor, resulting in what seemed like 30 effortless points. He also grabbed nine rebounds and dished out nine assists, despite having a minor ankle twist. Wade poured in 27 points in 31 minutes, making 9 of 14 field goals. Last but not least, Bosh went 8 of 13 for 20 points of his own.
When it was all said and done, the threesome hit 30 of 44 (68.2 percent) and finished with 77 points, 20 rebounds and 12 assists. And, of course, they won. Just a routine evening for Miami’s Big Three.
Burks’ best: Lost in the loss was a stellar night for Utah guard Alec Burks. After the Jazz starters appeared a bit tentative at the start of the game, Burks came right in and showed he was not intimidated whatsoever. He slashed to the hoops, slicing and dicing the Miami Heat defense. He also was very active defensively. Burks’ 13-point first half was the catalyst for the halftime lead. Despite the disappointing second half by the team, Burks managed to have an even better second half.
By the end, he had made 12 of 17 from the field en route to a career-high 31 points, as well as seven assists, four steals and three rebounds. The outstanding outing just adds to what has arguably been Burks’ best basketball of his NBA tenure thus far, spanning the past three weeks.
This and that:
• Center Enes Kanter was a big part of the Jazz’s first half, establishing an active presence inside against the Heat’s reserves. He finished with 14 points and eight rebounds in just 17 minutes.
• The Jazz’s starting backcourt of Trey Burke and Gordon Hayward shot a combined 3 of 16 from the floor, scoring just 10 points between them.
• The two teams combined for 118 points in the paint, with Miami scoring 60 of those.
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.