SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Facing Miami’s tough zone defense a second time, the Utah Jazz finally figured it out.
The Jazz balanced patience and aggression. They attacked the rim and kept the ball moving as much as possible to prevent getting bogged down and forcing bad shots.
The result was a 116-101 victory over the Heat on Wednesday night.
“There is a point in the game where you can either go one of two ways,” guard Donovan Mitchell said. “We just wanted to attack, put the pressure on and keep it going. You can get teams on their heels and you can kind of relax and let them kind of gain the momentum back.”
Mitchell did his part to press the attack. He scored 26 points on 9-of-16 shooting while getting it done inside and out. He shot over 50% from the field for a second consecutive game.
“I made it a focus just to keep getting to the rim and putting pressure on the rim,” Mitchell said.
Bojan Bogdanovic added 22 points and Jordan Clarkson chipped in 21 points off the bench for the Jazz. Rudy Gobert had 16 points and 20 rebounds as Utah won its fourth straight game.
Jimmy Butler scored 25 points to lead the Heat. Duncan Robinson added 18 points and Jae Crowder chipped in 15 off the bench.
Miami capped off its five-game road trip with a 1-4 record.
“Nobody wants to go 1-4 on the road trip, but it doesn’t take the eternal optimist to see there’s some good things going on in this locker room,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We’ll get this thing right, get our game together for this final push. It should be exciting.”
Miami built the largest lead during a back-and-forth first half. Butler, Kendrick Nunn and Robinson each scored a basket during an 8-0 run that put the Heat up 52-43.
Utah closed the gap in the third quarter and overtook Miami. Gobert tipped in a basket and Mitchell drove for a layup on back-to-back possessions to spark a 18-7 run. The Jazz scored on seven straight possessions during the run – capped by a layup and pair of free throws by Tony Bradley for a 79-72 lead.
“We were just tougher mentally in the second half,” Gobert said. “They’re a very physical team and I feel like in the first half we were complaining a lot. … They were being more physical than us.”
Robinson and Crowder drained back-to-back 3-pointers and Crowder added a pair of free throws to pull Miami within two at 87-85. Clarkson kept the Heat from regaining the lead, hitting a pair of 3-pointers less than a minute apart as part of a 9-0 run. The second 3-pointer gave Utah a 96-85 lead with 8:08 remaining.
Miami never got closer than seven points. After Andre Iguodala hit a 3-pointer to cut the Jazz lead to 106-99, Utah scored on four consecutive possessions, punctuated by a dunk by Gobert that made it 116-101 with 1:31 remaining.
“We’re not a bad team, but we’re not where we wanna be at just yet,” Butler said. “That’s OK. I think, moving forward, we just continue to get better, and figure out a way to win games, especially on the road.”
TURNING BACK TURNOVERS
Miami’s zone flustered the Jazz offense early. Utah committed five turnovers within the first nine minutes and had given up 14 points on nine turnovers by halftime. That changed in the second half.
The Jazz committed six turnovers over the final two quarters. Utah gave up zero points off those turnovers. One thing that changed was the Jazz became more precise with passing and ball movement in the second half. Too many first half passes were off-target, even when they weren’t turnovers and slowed down the ball. That was not a problem after halftime.
“Our guys have done a better job of trying to recognize where the turnovers are coming and correcting it,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “That’s the primary thing. I want us to stay aggressive.”
Robinson made at least five 3-pointers for the fourth straight game for Miami after going 6 of 13 from the perimeter. He has knocked down 191 3-pointers while shooting 43.8% from outside. His percentage ranks best among the top 10 NBA players in made 3-pointers this season.
Heat: Crowder has made 12 3-pointers in three games since being acquired by the Heat. He has shot 60% from the perimeter during that stretch. … Bam Adebayo finished with a team-high 11 rebounds. … Miami held the Jazz to three fastbreak points.
Jazz: Gobert blocked his 100th shot of the season in the first quarter. He has at least 100 blocks in each of the last six seasons. … Joe Ingles dished out a team-high nine assists. … Utah outscored Miami 16-0 in second-chance points through the first three quarters.
Heat visit the Atlanta Hawks on Feb. 20.
Jazz host the San Antonio Spurs on Feb. 21.
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