Utah Jazz roll over short-handed Miami Heat
SALT LAKE CITY — Donovan Mitchell didn’t want to give Dwyane Wade another chance at a comeback victory.
Mitchell scored 21 points and Derrick Favors had 17 to help the Utah Jazz rout 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 Wade. Mitchell has acknowledged he studies film of Wade to develop his own offensive repertoire.
“I just wanted to go out there and be aggressive,” Mitchell said. “I didn’t want to think — just play.”
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.
“That was fun. He’s a legend,” said Mitchell, who thought it was one of his better two-way games.
Rodney McGruder paced the Heat with 16 points and Kelly Olynyk had 14 as Miami played without Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic. Wade, set to retire after this 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.
“They jumped on us from an effort and energy standpoint,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We were bobbling passes, traveling, missing catches, and then it became a domino going down the wrong way. We just couldn’t get it back.”
Favors went 7 of 8 and had eight boards in 19 minutes, while Rudy Gobert had 10 points and 11 rebounds. Kyle Korver, who has opened up the floor for the Jazz since arriving via trade from Cleveland, made four more 3-pointers and scored 16 points.
The Jazz have had an up-and-down season by any measure. This win marked Utah’s second by 27 points or more in eight days, but the Jazz have also lost games by 33 and 50 points and have yet to reach the .500 mark at home (now 5-6).
“That’s the tough part for us, just trying to play the same way and keep it up each game,” Favors said.
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 in the second quarter to the Jazz less than two weeks later.
Korver came into the league with Wade in 2003 and has heard the Wade-Mitchell comparisons. “Their physical abilities are similar. D-Wade in his younger years — and he still is — was so explosive and so tough around the basket. He could get into the paint and make plays, make reads. I think Donovan has a lot of those qualities and he definitely has a good start,” Korver said.
Whiteside, who left the court for the locker room during the fourth quarter of a home loss to Orlando last week, is still not with the team for personal reasons. He later said he just needed to go to the bathroom, but Spoelstra was upset and said the Heat “handled it as a team.” Whiteside is expected back with the club on Friday.
Dragic, who has battled a sore right knee for the last six weeks and had it drained in mid-November, missed the game — his 12th scratch of the season. Fellow guard Dion Waiters hasn’t played at all since having ankle surgery in January.
Heat: Wade, making his last scheduled regular-season appearance in Salt Lake City, got a standing ovation when he checked in midway through the first quarter and another when exited the court after the game. … The Heat’s 15 points were a season low in the first quarter for a Jazz opponent. … Miami was down 92-53 entering the fourth, the largest deficit after three quarters in the NBA this season.
Jazz: Raul Neto missed the game with a sore right leg. … The win snapped a four-game skid against Miami. … Utah outrebounded Miami 52-30.
Heat: Visit the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night.
Jazz: Play the Orlando Magic in Mexico City on Saturday.
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