SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – Donovan Mitchell scored 21 points and Derrick Favors had 17 to help the Utah Jazz romp over the short-handed Miami Heat 111-84 on Wednesday night.
”It started from the tip,” Mitchell said after the Jazz led by as many as 42. ”We came out strong and didn’t let up.”
Playing against one of his basketball idols probably for the final time, Mitchell unleashed a variety of moves – the crossovers and misdirection dribbles that have prompted comparisons to a young Dwyane Wade.
Mitchell has acknowledged he studies film of Wade to develop his own offensive repertoire. On Tuesday night, Mitchell took Wade to dinner in downtown Salt Lake City and gifted him a rocking chair.
Then, the second-year guard, who said he calls Wade on the phone often and picks his brain, matched up and scored on the 12-time All-Star at least a few times in the blowout.
Wade, set to retire after the season, scored six points. Less than two weeks ago, the Jazz also went up big in the first quarter against the Heat, leading by as many as 19 before allowing a 20-0 run and watching Wade sink two free throws to win it in Miami, 102-100.
This time, there was no such drama. The Jazz sprinted out to a 34-10 lead on hot shooting and tenacious defense that denied the Heat any easy looks early. Favors went 7 of 8 and had eight boards in 19 minutes, while Rudy Gobert had 10 points and 11 rebounds.
“I think the biggest thing is we played defense at a high rate the whole game,” added Mitchell. “There were maybe three possessions where we stopped. I think that’s what’s going to take us. Off shots are going to fall but from the opening tip I just wanted to go out there and be aggressive and find ways. Not worrying, not thinking , just playing. Once you start playing defense everything starts falling in line for you.”
Even within the same game, the Jazz were nearly unstoppable in the first quarter – shooting 70 percent – but went through long stretches later in the game when they couldn’t generate any offense and had a spate of turnovers.
They ended up shooting 52.6 percent, including 16 of 32 from 3-point range, with 17 turnovers. The Heat have been riding their own rollercoaster. They led by 31 in the second quarter of a win against New Orleans on Nov. 30 and then trailed by 31 – and more – in the second quarter to the Jazz less than two weeks later.
The Jazz next play Orlando in Mexico City Saturday at 3:00 p.m.