Whether it’s the third quarter or fourth quarter, there are stretches — it happened to be the third quarter tonight — where we’re not as connected and determined as we need to be. —Jazz coach Quin Snyder
MIAMI — In Friday night’s 99-91 loss to Denver, the Utah Jazz didn’t play as poorly as the final score might have looked. The Jazz actually outscored the Nuggets in the first and fourth quarters and were even in the second quarter.
The third quarter, however, was horrific, as the Nuggets outscored the Jazz 38-16 to pave the way for their second easy win over Utah in a 10-day stretch.
Third quarters have been a problem for the Jazz for much of the season, even though coach Quin Snyder didn’t want to admit it when asked about Utah’s third-quarter woes.
“Whether it’s the third quarter or fourth quarter, there are stretches — it happened to be the third quarter tonight — where we’re not as connected and determined as we need to be,” he said.
Snyder said the defense broke down in the third quarter when the Nuggets sank 14 of 21 shots, including five 3-pointers.
“In the third quarter, a lot of the problem was we were taking the ball out of the net the whole time,” he said. “Obviously we didn’t score and they did score. So whether it was the offense, the defense, it was both in the third quarter when you get outscored 38-16 or whatever it was.”
Snyder is right that the third quarter isn’t the worst quarter for the Jazz. That would be the first quarter, where the Jazz have been outscored by 104 points in 38 games this year. In the third quarter, the Jazz have been outscored by 81 points, while they are plus-90 and plus-55 in the second and fourth quarters, respectively.
The worst third-quarter showing this season by the Jazz happened in a Nov. 10 game at home against Miami, which is Utah's opponent Sunday (1:30 p.m.) at American Airlines Arena.
In that game at Vivint Arena, the Jazz tied a record for futility by making just 1 of 18 field goals and scoring just eight total points to squander a 12-point halftime lead. The Heat scored the final 13 points of the game for an 84-74 victory as the Jazz ended up with their lowest scoring output of the season.
The Heat come into the game at 21-17 in the No. 5 spot in the Eastern Conference standings after defeating New York in overtime Friday night. While the Jazz have gone 3-12 over the past month, the Heat have been going in the other direction with a 9-4 mark over the past 30 days.
As well as the Heat are playing this year, this is not the LeBron James-Dwyane Wade-Chris Bosh Heat team of recent years that captured two NBA titles and played in two other NBA Finals.
The Heat don’t have any real stars and feature the most balanced team in the league with eight players averaging in double figures.
Goran Dragic leads the way at 16.7 ppg, followed by Dion Waiters at 14.3 and Hassan Whiteside (14.0 ppg, 11.6 rpg), who is back after missing 12 games last month with a knee injury. Other double-figure scorers are Josh Richardson (12.8 ppg), Tyler Johnson (11.9 ppg), James Johnson (10.7 ppg), Wayne Ellington (10.5 ppg) and Kelly Olynyk (10.5 ppg).
JAZZ NOTES: The Jazz contingent flew into Miami late Saturday afternoon. Usually the team flies right after their game, but because of the longer flight east, they opted to leave Saturday morning rather than arrive in Miami in the middle of the night. Following Sunday’s game, the Jazz will head up the coast to Washington, D.C., for a game on Wednesday night. The road trip concludes with a game Friday in Charlotte. Ricky Rubio’s 15 points tied Donovan Mitchell for high-point honors Friday, but Rubio finished with a negative-25 in the plus-minus for his time on the floor when he was guarding Jamal Murray, who tied Trey Lyles for game-high honors with 26 points. In the Dec. 26 loss to Denver, Jonas Jerebko started at the power forward spot, while Thabo Sefalosha never left the bench. It was just the opposite Friday as Sefalosha got the start and Jerebko never saw any action.