SALT LAKE CITY — On Dec. 2, the Utah Jazz opened up a 19-point lead against the Miami Heat in the first quarter only to see the Heat score the next 20 points and ultimately win the game by two.
Just 10 days later as the two teams met again Wednesday night at Vivint Arena, the Jazz built a massive lead in the opening frame, as they led 40-15 after the first 12 minutes. This time, Utah didn’t let Miami into the game and ran away with a 111-84 victory.
The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the Jazz and moved their record to 14-15. The Heat dropped to 11-16 as they played the fourth of a six-game Western Conference road trip. Miami’s 86 points marked the fewest it has scored in a game this season.
Donovan Mitchell was excellent in leading Utah with 21 points on 9-of-17 shooting with five rebounds, three assists and two steals. In all, six Jazzmen finished in double figures, and all 13 active players saw time on the floor.
“A lot of times we kind of get kind of stagnant. We just kept moving the ball on offense and playing defense and getting stops,” Mitchell said. “I think that’s what really kept us going.”
While Utah was crisp offensively early, that dropped off some, but the Jazz were strong defensively for virtually the entire night, even if the performance came as the away side was without Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters.
“That’s how we need to play,” head coach Quin Snyder said. “We just have to continue to do it and continue to focus on it. There’s some games it’s easier than others for all kinds of different reasons, but you see it with guys communicating and just being focused on not just what you’re doing defensively, but what we’re doing.”
Added Mitchell: “It started from the tip. Just trying to be the aggressor. The last time we played them, we came out strong and then kind of let up the lead, so the biggest thing was to stay focused and be locked in on defense and everything else took care of itself.”
This one was all but over early, as the Jazz scored the first 13 points of the game before James Johnson made a layup 4:25 in. Utah led 30-10 after a Donovan Mitchell bucket off an offensive rebound with 3:40 remaining in the first quarter and went up by 25 with three seconds left in the frame after a beautiful offensive possession led to an open 3-pointer for Royce O’Neale that he sank.
For the quarter, the Jazz were 14 of 20 from the field while the Heat were just 5-of-17. Utah made two more 3-pointers and five more free throws in the stanza and had a 14-6 advantage in points in the paint. Additionally, the Jazz outrebounded Miami by 10, had seven more assists and turned five Heat turnovers into nine points, while Miami turned three Utah giveaways into just one point.
The scoring was balanced, too, as three players had six points apiece, and six more players had at least three points. Thabo Sefolosha was the lone Jazzman to enter the game in the first quarter and not score.
Utah was up by 27 at halftime and 39 after three quarters, stretching its lead to 42 on a Kyle Korver 3-pointer on the first possession of the fourth frame.
“When we got the lead early, we wanted to make sure that we kept grinding and kept doing what we do,” said center Rudy Gobert, who added that the Heat’s comeback earlier this month was in the back of his mind some.
Wednesday marked the Heat’s second straight loss.2 comments on this story
“Clearly the entire night was a struggle for us,” said Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra. “I don’t have an explanation for it. There’s no excuse for it. This was our worst game of the year. You have to credit them. They jumped all over us from the beginning...we never could make any kind of significant run, even to get it within striking distance.”
Utah will now go on a unique road trip, as it’ll play the Orlando Magic on Saturday afternoon in Mexico City as part of an event that also includes a game against the Magic and Chicago Bulls on Thursday night.