MIAMI (ABC4 Sports) – The last Miami play was designed by Heat coach Erik Spoelstra to put the ball in Josh Richardson’s hands, and with it came the right to decide who would take his team’s biggest shot of the game.
He chose himself.
It was the right call.
Richardson’s layup with 5.1 seconds left capped a Miami rally from eight points down in the fourth, Donovan Mitchell missed a jumper for Utah at the buzzer and the Heat simply stole one in the final moments to beat the Utah Jazz 103-102 on Sunday.
”He drew it up for me and I was kind of surprised,” Richardson said.
So surprised, in fact, that Richardson emerged from that huddle telling Wayne Ellington and Tyler Johnson to get ready for his pass. But a lane opened to the rim, Richardson laid the ball home and the Heat won their fourth straight – all by single digits, Miami’s longest stretch of such wins since November 2012.
”Utah played a very good basketball game,” Spoelstra said. ”In many ways, they deserved to win this one. But we’ve got to make up some ground. We’ve given up some games that we wish we could have had back, so quite frankly we need to steal some.”
Tyler Johnson and Goran Dragic each scored 16 points for Miami. Richardson and Hassan Whiteside each had 14, James Johnson 13 and Kelly Olynyk had 12.
Mitchell scored 19 of his 27 points in the second half, but couldn’t save Utah from dropping its seventh straight on the road. He went into the backcourt to take the final inbounds pass and wound up taking a jumper from the right side that missed as time expired.
Mitchell kicked himself afterward, realizing too late Rodney Hood might have been open.
”I should have made the right read instead of shooting it,” Mitchell said.
Hood scored 17 points, Thabo Sefolosha added 13 and Derrick Favors 11 for the Jazz, who fell to 3-17 on the road.
”We obviously did a few things right,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. ”It doesn’t feel like it right now.”
Miami improved to 2-14 when trailing after three quarters.
The Heat led for 20 of the 24 first-half minutes, but their lead was only 49-47 at the break.
Mitchell was 3 for 12 in the opening half, after going 5 for 14 against the Heat when the teams met in November. It was like he was due to break out – and did just that, needing only 3 minutes to score Utah’s first 11 points of the second half.
He made his first five shots of the third, ended up 6-for-8 for 13 points in the quarter and Utah took a 75-74 lead into the fourth. Mitchell put the Jazz up 93-85 with 6:28 left, but Miami finished on a 18-9 spurt.
”Find a way at the end,” Spoelstra said.