SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Even on an unusually bad three-point shooting night, the Utah Jazz took care of business at home at Vivint Arena, beating the Miami Heat for its seventh straight win, 112-94.
Utah has now won 18 out of its last 19, and improved the NBA’s best record to 22-5.
On the second night of a back to back, the Jazz shot just 26 percent from three-point range, but the defense came through.
After leading 47-42 at halftime, the Jazz opened the second half on a 16-0 run, and held Miami to just 15 points in the third quarter in stretching their lead to 21 points. Miami failed to score a point in the first 6:09 of the third quarter.
“We knew they were going to come out aggressive, playing on a back to back was going to be tough,” said Royce O’Neale, who filled the stat sheet with eight points, seven rebounds, four assists, three steals and three blocks. “We needed to find the energy somehow, and in the third quarter we really picked it up. That’s when we got a big lead and kind of ran away with it.”
Donovan Mitchell jump started that third-quarter run, making three straight baskets in just 58 seconds, to spark a 16-0 Jazz run to open the second half. Mitchell led the Jazz in scoring with 26 points. Bojan Bogdanovic added 19 points, while Rudy Gobert had 16 points, 12 rebounds, and three blocks.
Georges Niang and Jordan Clarkson both scored in double figures off the bench. Niang finished with 14 points, 3 rebounds, and 5 assists, including a couple of great passes to Gobert. Clarkson had a quiet night for his standards, finishing with 11 points, five assists, and two steals.
Utah, the NBA’s best three-point shooting team, made just 12 of 46 from beyond the arc (26.1%).
“Obviously you’re never going to play a perfect game,” Niang said. “I think coach has said it before, no team has ever been shut out in the NBA. “Obviously we know we’re going to make mistakes, but it’s just moving on to the next play. If we turn the ball over, sprint back on defense.”
“When we have guys that are really good at creating those advantages, then we are able to have the defense commit and try to take away the rim and we’re able to have all those 3’s,” Gobert said. “That’s what makes it so hard. We’re able to get really really good pressure on the rim and the defense has to make decisions.”
The Jazz defense held Miami to just 40.7 percent shooting from the field.
Kendrick Nunn led the Heat with 23 points, and Miami star Jimmy Butler just 15 points on 3-10 shooting. The Jazz kicked up the defensive intensity after the first quarter, holding the Heat to just 41 percent shooting for the game.
Jazz point guard Mike Conley missed his fourth straight game with a hamstring injury. Bogdanovic injured his ankle in the third quarter, but was able to return.
The Jazz next host the top team in the Eastern Conference, the Philadelphia 76ers Monday night.