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Heat escape Utah with 1-point win
December 2, 2016 / 4:56 AM / 10 months ago

Heat escape Utah with 1-point win

EditorsNote: Fixes “Babbitt” in 12th graf

Heat escape Utah with 1-point win

SALT LAKE CITY -- Facing one of the best defensive teams in the NBA mattered little to the Miami Heat when it came to attacking the paint. The Heat slashed to the rim at will for four quarters against the Utah Jazz, getting high-percentage shots time after time.

It gave Miami just enough of a cushion to hold off a late Utah rally and escape with a 111-110 victory over the Jazz on Thursday night.

The Heat finished with 64 points in the paint; 73 percent of the team’s total baskets came from inside that area. It also marked the most points in the paint that Utah has allowed all season.

“We’ve been getting in the paint a lot this season,” guard Wayne Ellington said. “That’s one of our strong suits is getting in the paint. We’ve (also) been getting it done from the outside, which opens up the paint even more for us.”

Goran Dragic scored 27 points and James Johnson added 24 off the bench to help Miami (7-12) earn its third straight road victory. Ellington added 17 points off the bench for the Heat.

Gordon Hayward scored a season-high 32 points -- his second consecutive game with at least 30 points -- and Joe Johnson added 18 to lead Utah. Joe Ingles added 15 points and Trey Lyles chipped in 14 for the Jazz.

Utah (11-9) set a franchise record with 17 3-pointers, but saw its four-game winning streak snapped when a late rally fell short.

The Jazz rallied from a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter, cutting Miami’s lead to one when Hayward drilled a jumper to make it 111-110 with 1:00 left. Hayward missed a go-ahead 3-pointer moments later, but Ingles stole the ball from Dragic with 3.9 seconds left -- giving Utah another chance to set up a game-winning basket.

Hayward unloaded a jumper that glanced off the rim. Rudy Gobert collected the rebound and got a putback basket to go, but it came after the buzzer.

“I felt like they played decent defense on it,” Hayward said. “I had to hang in there a little bit longer than I wanted to and then missed the shot. But I‘m going to take that shot 100 out of 100 times. I‘m glad I got a look.”

Injuries have spread like an epidemic up and down the roster for both Utah and Miami this season and both clubs were more shorthanded than usual on Thursday night with a new spat of injuries.

For Utah, both George Hill (sprained toe) and Rodney Hood (hamstring strain) fell victim to the injury bug before the game. On Miami’s side, Derrick Williams (back spasms) did not play and Luke Babbitt (hip flexor strain) left in the first quarter and did not return.

The Jazz used their 11th different starting lineup in 20 games this season and it has impacted early season results to a great degree. But Utah coach Quin Snyder doesn’t want to make excuses, especially with his team’s lapses in the paint against the Heat.

“You can say, collectively and individually, we weren’t able to keep people in front of us in pick-and-roll situations,” Snyder said. “Again, we lacked physicality early in the game.”

Dragic gave Miami a brief spark after some early first-quarter offensive doldrums from both teams. He scored on three straight possessions to push the Heat out to a 13-8 lead.

Hayward and Johnson each answered with back-to-back baskets to help the Jazz edge in front 21-18. Utah made 9-of-10 shots over a seven-minute stretch, culminating in a 3-pointer from Lyles that gave the Jazz a 30-26 lead on their first second-quarter possession.

Miami didn’t trail for long in the second quarter. The Heat scorched Utah with a 17-2 run to build up a 50-36 lead before halftime. Ellington put Miami ahead on a pair of free throws and a long jumper and James Johnson finished it off with the third of three baskets he scored during that stretch.

Ellington and Johnson’s play off the bench proved critical for a Heat team down to nine healthy players.

“I love Wayne like a son, even though he’s older than me,” center Hassan Whiteside said. “Wayne is my guy, man, with the way he’s shooting.”

The Jazz finally halted the run behind back-to-back baskets from Johnson and Lyles. It turned into a 12-2 run, culminating in a tip-in basket from Gobert, that cut Miami’s lead to 52-48 at halftime.

Utah finally went ahead 61-60 in the third quarter. Johnson and Hayward hit 3-pointers a minute apart to get the Jazz within a point and then Hayward added a pair of go-ahead free throws a short time later.

The Heat rattled off eight unanswered points, highlighted by back-to-back layups from Dragic to retake the lead. Miami stayed a step ahead of Utah entering the fourth quarter, eventually going up 89-77 by dominating in the paint. James Johnson, Tyler Johnson and Willie Reed all cut to the baskets on three straight possessions to get easy baskets.

The Jazz did not go away. Hayward drilled a jumper and then found Ingles for a driving layup to help Utah cut Miami’s lead to 107-105 with 2:48 left.

“Both teams laid it out on the line,” Heat coach Erik Spoeltra said. “There weren’t possessions where either team could think, ‘I regretted I didn’t go hard enough.’ You had big players making big plays down the stretch.”

NOTES: G George Hill missed his ninth game this season because of injury. He is averaging 20 points, 4.2 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 11 games for Utah. The Jazz are 8-3 with Hill in the lineup and 3-6 without him. ... Miami G Josh Richardson missed his second straight game because of a sprained right ankle. ... C Hassan Whiteside has led Miami in rebounding in each of the team’s first 19 games this season. It is the longest overall streak in Heat franchise history. The last player to lead their team in rebounding in as many consecutive games was Ben Wallace, who led Detroit in that category over 33 games during the 2002-03 season. ... F Gordon Hayward has averaged 27.0 points in Utah’s last six regular-season games against Miami.

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