The Utah Jazz traveled to AmericanAirlines Arena for game three of Miami's seven-game home stand, but tonight they'd be without defensive anchor, Rudy Gobert. For the Heat, Dwyane Wade would miss his first game of the season for personal issues as one of his sons was hospitalized for unknown reasons. Both teams would turn to rookie fill-ins as Josh Richardson and Trey Lyles started for their respective squads.
Josh Richardson, the second round pick out of Tennessee, started off the night energized as he quickly scored 8 points on 3/3 shooting before picking up his second foul and being benched. The recent trade of Mario Chalmers has clearly been a confidence boost to him and second-year guard, Tyler Johnson, and both showed that confidence early on. Johnson ended the half with 9 points on 4/5 shooting.
The Heat attacked early and had no fear of getting to the basket without shot-blocker extraordinaire Gobert guarding the paint. Goran Dragic started the game right away with an easy layup inside. That set the tone for a 9-0 Heat run. However, with poor shot selection by the Heat, Chris Bosh struggling to find his range, and a gritty effort by the Jazz, Utah surged back to get right back in the game. This seems to be a common theme with the Heat as of late; make a run, lull back into autopilot, and repeat. Bosh eventually got himself going by attacking Trey Lyles at every opportunity. Despite Lyles starting at the center, Derrick Favors, moved into the role as the rim protector and found himself guarding Hassan Whiteside at every opportunity. With his strength, he kept Whiteside in check, only allowing him to score 3 points.
While Whiteside wasn't necessarily a force offensively, his presence was definitely felt on the defensive end as he collected 8 rebounds and 3 blocks. Favors wouldn't be outdone as not only did he hold Whiteside in check, but he added 11 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals and 4 blocks. He was certainly the first half MVP for the Jazz, even with Gordon Hayward scoring a game-high 16 points at the half. Hayward took advantage of rookie Justise Winslow, getting him in early foul trouble, which had Erik Spoelstra using a three guard lineup with Dragic, Johnson, and newly acquired Beno Udrih.
After the half, the Heat led 46-45.
Favors picked up right where he left off after halftime. He continued to muscle Whiteside around inside and protect the paint, adding to his impressive block total. Gobert who? Good thing he's a strong guy, because he's putting the team on his back! Alright, that's enough.
The Jazz started the second half with Alec Burks in the starting lineup and maybe that stamp of approval was what he needed from coach, Quinn Snyder, because he really helped the offensive load for Utah. With Winslow no longer in foul trouble, he could come in and give a lot of his energy into guarding Hayward, and he was kept in check by both Winslow and Luol Deng, only scoring 8 points in the entire second half (shooting 33% overall in the game). This continues the trend of the Heat's defense tightening up at halftime.
A big reason the Jazz stayed in the game in the third quarter, despite only shooting 39% as a team is the huge free throw disparity. By the end of the third, the Jazz shot 20 free throws, hitting 16 compared to the Heat only shooting 8, hitting 6.
With both teams tied at 66, Bosh and the bench mob turned the tide for the Heat.
The highlight of the night goes to CB with this block that seemed to really suck the air out of Utah.
Richardson didn't get many minutes in the second half, but that mostly had to do with the success of Winslow andJohnson. Even Deng got virtually no minutes in the fourth quarter as Spoelstra rode with the young fellas.
With the spacing of the bench unit for Miami, Bosh could move freely around the floor, scoring in a multitude of ways. Another key factor was Josh McRoberts battling down low with Favors and Trevor Booker while Whiteside got a breather. Both forwards seemed to be exhausted by the end of the fourth quarter after dealing with McRoberts' energy off the bench and Whiteside's constant boxing out, putbacks, and rebounding prowess. It's these little things that turn the tide on tight, grind-it-out types of victories like this.
With late free-throws by Dragic and solid execution down the stretch, the Heat picked up their third straight victory and their sixth on the season. They held on for the 92-91 victory and improved their home record to 5-1.
Stat of the night: The Heat have kept opponents to only 29% three point shooting on the season.
Derrick Favors' monster night included 25 points (10/18 FG), 12 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, and a career-high 7 blocks. Hayward and Burks both added 24 points each.
Chris Bosh lead the Heat with 25 points (9/18 FG), 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 blocks. Whiteside totaled 9 points, 14 rebounds, and 5 blocks. Johnson added 17 points (8/12 GF) off the bench.
Full box score: HERE
The discoveries of Whiteside and Johnson almost make me appreciate the lost season last year.
Winslow is going to develop into a lockdown defender sooner than most think.
We all hope everything's okay with Dwyane Wade's son, but it's probably not a terrible idea for him to miss a game while he's still healthy every now and then.
With some weaker opponents upcoming, it might be time to expand the big man rotation to get Bosh and Whiteside a little extra rest.
Dragic needs to be more aggressive as Spoelstra said in his pre-game interview. He seemed to check out a bit towards the middle of the game.