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Four takeaways from the Heat’s 84-65 Summer League loss to the Jazz

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The Heat suffered their first loss in Summer League.

2021 Las Vegas Summer League - Miami Heat v Utah Jazz Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

Piecing together a dominant second half, the Utah Jazz cruised past the Miami Heat 84-65 today.

It is Miami’s first loss in five total Summer League games. It drops to 2-1 in the Las Vegas Summer League, while Utah moves to 3-0.

Omer Yurtseven led the way for the Heat, registering his third double-double in four Summer League games. He finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks and three steals. He shot 6-of-14 from the floor and 1-of-2 from distance.

Four of Utah’s five starters registered double figure scoring, led by guard Trent Forrest. He tallied 19 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, shooting 8-of-12 from the floor. It is Forrest’s first double double in Summer League play.

Here are my four takeaways from Friday’s losing effort:

1. Early defensive dominance from Yurtseven

When star center Bam Adebayo took the helm, Miami adapted a switch-heavy scheme in the pick-and-roll regardless of the personnel on the floor.

Last year, it switched, though it also blitzed more on the perimeter and occasionally transitioned into a drop-coverage scheme when 7-footer Dewayne Dedmon — who appeared in 16 games — was involved in the action.

Yurtseven’s had occasional defensive reps in space, but for the most part, he’s primarily operated in drop coverage — valuing rim protection over mismatches.

Given Miami’s summer league roster construction with a flurry of guards, it makes sense for Miami’s few big men to operate in the drop. Fortunately, it caters to Yurtseven’s strength defensively: Protecting the rim.

The 7-footer wasted no time establishing a defensive presence Friday. He recorded two blocks with a tipped alley-oop pass (counted as a steal) in the first 5:39 of the game. He finished with three blocks and two steals in the first half, adding one more in the second.

Through four games, Yurtseven has recorded 11 blocks — equating to 2.8 blocks per game.

2. Size, or lack thereof, bit late

As I highlighted above, the Heat have a lot of guards on their Summer League roster.

In fact, all but three of their 14 players — Yurtseven, Micah Potter and Brandon McCoy — are above 6-foot-8. The latter two didn’t play in Friday’s loss.

Its lack of size ripped apart the Heat near the end of the third quarter, when Yurtseven wasn’t on the floor.

Udoka Azubuike, listed at 7-feet, catalyzed an 11-0 run from the end of the third into the beginning of the fourth, prompting a Heat timeout with 8:38 to go.

He scored eight points over the near three-minute stretch, capping it off by converting three offensive rebounds into six consecutive points, ballooning the once one-point advantage to 12 points.

Yurtseven re-entered after the timeout and Azubuike only had one basket the remainder of the game. He finished with 18 points on a perfect 8-of-8 shooting, nine rebounds (four offensive) and a block. Utah finished a plus-20 (52-32) in the painted area, including a plus-10 in the second half (30-20).

3. Okpala’s offensive struggles continue

Third-year forward KZ Okpala struggled once again on Friday.

He finished with five points on a dismal 1-of-6 shooting with three turnovers. He made three of his six free-throw attempts.

“He just pressing and trying to do the right thing too much,” Heat Summer League head coach Malik Allen said postgame.

In three Las Vegas Summer League games, Okpala is averaging 8.0 points per game, though he’s shooting 6-of-27 (27.2 percent), including 2-of-12 (16.7 percent) from beyond the arc.

The former second-round pick is participating in his first career Summer League just after partaking in the Tokyo Olympics for Team Nigeria. He did not participate in the 2019 Summer League due to the wait of his draft-night trade getting finalized and last year’s getting cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

4. Utah’s second half surge

Despite shooting 1-of-11 from distance in the first half, the Jazz trailed by just one, 33-32. The Heat were flying around defensively, holding them to 38.7 percent shooting with nine turnovers and three (!) shot clock violations.

Forrest and Elijah Hughes fueled a quick 9-0 run in the first 1:39 out of halftime.

Utah didn’t trail the remainder of the game.

The Jazz netted five 3-pointers (on 12 attempts; 41.7 percent) and shot 60 percent from the floor in the second half — 50 percent overall.

Azubuike, Forrest and Jarrett Brantley tallied 34 combined points after halftime, two more than Miami as a team. Utah outscored the Heat 52-32, out-rebounded them 20-17 and out-assisted them 11-5.

Zero Heat players had more than six second-half points.