It was Jimmy who would get the Heat started tonight. Kendrick Nunn followed up with a slam dunk, working to get out of his recent slump.
On defense the Heat were aggressive, crowding the Jazz shooters and pressuring Gobert in the key. Still, Utah managed to keep things close with Donovan Mitchell and Bojan Bogdanovic scoring some tough buckets. The lead would switch multiple times throughout the first.
Jae Crowder would see minutes early coming in at the end of the quarter, and immediately hit a three. He’s been great for the Heat lately, shooting nearly 70% from three. Obviously the three point percentage will regress toward the mean, but hopefully he can continue his strong offensive output moving forward.
Goran Dragic, Jimmy Butler, Duncan Robinson and Andre Iguodala would all get on the scoreboard with some great looks as the Heat quickly battled back to take a three point lead into the second.
The Heat would continue to build their lead as Goran opened the second quarter for Miami with an and-one layup. Utah would score on some attempts, slashing to the bucket for layups and largely abandoning the three point game (they were shooting 28% from three). Still it was effective for them as they battled back to within striking distance to keep the Heat uncomfortable.
Jimmy Butler would continue his midrange assault into the second scoring on jumpers, and getting to the free throw line as per usual. Led by Donovan Mitchell, the Jazz would creep back within one. Despite that, it’s worth mentioning how solid Miami’s defense was on Rudy Gobert. Besides the Nunn highlight block, the Heat pressured Gobert relentlessly causing him to miss some easy looks inside.
Bam had three steals in the half, and caused multiple turnovers with strong defense. Bam was also exceptional in facilitating on offense totalling three assists. Unfortunately he struggled to score, but Miami’s offense was solid going on an 8-0 run-in the final minutes.
The Jazz would pull back towards the end of the quarter, but Miami held on to take a five point lead into the second half.
Rudy Gobert opened the quarter with a slam dunk, as Utah worked to cut into Miami’s lead. The Heat would eventually get back into rhythm thanks to the scoring efforts of Jimmy Butler as they worked to create distance. Rudy Gobert would get the Jazz within one on a slam, and taunt Bam after the bucket as revenge for an earlier Bam Slam. He’d get a technical foul for doing so.
Jimmy Butler seemed to tweak his ankle at one point, exiting the game and going to the locker room. He’d eventually return to the bench.
Around the 5:40 mark, Donovan Mitchell would tie the game, later the Jazz would re-take the lead on a 14-4 with Jordan Clarkson and Bojan Bogdanovic leading the charge for Utah. It didn’t help that Utah converted on many second chance points, by out-rebounding the Heat all game.
The Heat worked to stay in the game with Jimmy’s absence, but struggled with the offense slowing down significantly. Still, they’d stay alive going into the fourth quarter down only five.
Duncan would hit a triple to get the Heat going in the fourth, and would quickly hit another after that doing whatever he could to keep the Heat in this game. Jae Crowder would also get in on the action hitting a three of his own to get the Heat within three. Unfortunately, he’d get called for a tech moments later after getting fouled himself.
Jimmy would come back into the game around the 9:17 mark, but the Jazz continued to surge with Jordan Clarkson going nuclear to spark an 8-0 run and take an 11 point lead.
Failing to plug the gap, the Heat went to a small ball lineup a la Houston Rockets to try and spark the offense. It would work somewhat with Goran scoring two consecutive buckets. The Heat and Jazz exchanged three pointers, but still the Heat remained just out of reach. Bojan Bogdanovic would put the dagger in the Heat with eight points in the fourth.
This was a tough loss, with Miami really struggling to climb out of their third quarter hole the entire fourth. It was particularly frustrating because the Heat controlled for much of the game. Hopefully they can get the necessary rest over the All-Star break to come back out swinging against the Hawks on February 20th.