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The Roundup—Jazz finish strong, take down Heat in SLC
Now that's how you close it out.
Over their last five games, the Utah Jazz had displayed a troubling tendency to build a big lead only to falter in the fourth quarter.
That was definitely not the case Wednesday night, though, as Utah put together a strong third quarter and then pulled away in the game's final minutes for a 116-101 victory over the Miami Heat.
"What I really liked [late in the game], to be honest with you, was the defense," Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said. "When we defend, we can get out in transition. Tonight we showed toughness mentally to defend in the second half when we weren't making shots, and then our offense started to break through."
Donovan Mitchell led the Jazz with 26 points, while Bojan Bogdanović finished with 23 points and Jordan Clarkson poured in 21 off the bench. Clarkson has scored at least 20 points in three straight games, and he's averaging 21.6 points over his last eight games.
Rudy Gobert finished with 16 points, 20 rebounds and two blocks—plus a game-high net rating of +25. He now has 42 double-doubles this season, which ranks third in the NBA.
Utah (36-18) will head into the All-Star break on a four-game winning streak.
“We really wanted to make a statement tonight and make sure we go into the break with a clear mind,” Gobert said. "They're a very physical team and play well together. We really wanted to come out and play more physical in the second half. Everyone did a great job moving and sharing the ball."
Miami's Jimmy Butler was leading all scorers with 21 points when he turned his ankle midway through the third quarter. Butler returned to the game early in the final period but was not nearly as effective, shooting only 2-for-7 over the final nine minutes. He finished with a team-high 25 points.
Duncan Robinson shot 6-for-13 from three and finished with 18 points, while center Bam Adebayo stuffed the stat sheet with nine points, 11 rebounds, five assists, four steals and two blocks for Miami (35-19) in the loss.
Wednesday's Best: Donovan Mitchell
Mitchell, who had been in a bit of a funk over the past two weeks, locked in early and didn't let up. He shot 9-for-16 from the field—and of his seven misses, at least four looked good but somehow rattled out. He finished with 26 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals in 35 minutes. Mitchell has now scored at least 25 points 26 times this season.
"When Donovan attacks, usually other things begin to open up," Snyder said. "We've been telling him to drive, and driving doesn't mean just putting your head down and going to the hoop. It means being a little bit patient and knowing when the opportunity is there. If you keep trying to play the right way, things break through, and they did for him tonight."
The Jazz trailed for much of the game until they went on an 18-8 run near the end of the third quarter. Gobert threw down a dunk and made a tip-in, Mitchell scored six straight points (on a layup, a circus shot and two free throws), Clarkson hit a 3-pointer, and Bogdanović drove into the lane and bounced in a short jumper to give the Jazz a 75-69 lead.
Rudy vs. thepic.twitter.com/6TW06QJyqz— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) February 13, 2020
Utah extended that lead to 11 early in the fourth after free throws by Emmanuel Mudiay and two 3-pointers by Clarkson. Miami cut the margin back down to seven, but Mitchell and Bogdanović hit back-to-back threes and Gobert made two free throws. Bogdanović side-stepped his way into another three, and then Joe Ingles threw an alley-oop to Gobert for a one-handed slam in transition to put Utah up by 15 with 1:31 left.
Permission to make this whole sequence our valentine?pic.twitter.com/XVK5llyVYn— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) February 13, 2020
The Jazz caught fire in the second half, shooting 51.1 percent from the field, including 9-for-17 (52.9 percent) from beyond the arc.
Tonight's game featured four All-Stars—Utah's Gobert and Mitchell, and Miami's Butler and Adebayo. All four will play for Team Giannis in Sunday's NBA All-Star Game in Chicago.
Utah continued to dominate inside, outrebounding the Heat 53-37 and outscoring them in the paint 52-42. The Jazz grabbed 10 offensive rebounds, which led to an 18-3 advantage in second-chance points.
Former Jazz forward Jae Crowder—who was traded from Memphis to Miami last week—entered the game midway through the first quarter to a standing ovation. Crowder immediately hit a 3-pointer, and he finished with 15 points on 5-for-7 shooting. He also picked up a technical foul early in the fourth quarter. ... Mike Conley (illness) and Ed Davis (back) did not play for the Jazz. ... Standout rookie Tyler Herro (ankle) and Meyers Leonard (ankle) did not suit up for the Heat. ... Ingles shot only 1-for-9 from the field but also dished out a game-high nine assists. ... Ingles and Gobert each picked up a technical foul. ... The Jazz are 20-5 at home this season. ... The Heat have now lost four of their last five games.
The Jazz will take more than a week off during the All-Star break before they're back in action Friday, February 21 at home versus the San Antonio Spurs. Tipoff is set for 7:00pm MT.