Dion Waiters, Goran Dragic fuel Miami Heat past Utah Jazz

By John Coon, The Sports Xchange  |  Nov. 11, 2017 at 11:14 AM
share with facebook
share with twitter

SALT LAKE CITY -- Seeing his shot not fall didn't put any fear into Miami guard Dion Waiters. It never really does.

Waiters embraces a fearless approach to offense. One field goal attempt after another didn't drop for the Heat's No. 2 scorer for the better part of four quarters. He refused to give up. Waiters wanted the ball in his hands, no matter what came of it.

He found a way to deliver in crunch time, scoring 10 of his game-high 21 points in the final three minutes to help the Heat pull away for an 84-74 win over the Utah Jazz on Friday night.

"I'd rather go 0-for-30 than go 0-for-9 because if you stop shooting, that means you lost confidence," Waiters said. "So that's my mindset right there, is just sticking with that. You can't ever lose confidence, no matter what the situation is now. You're really not giving yourself an opportunity to go out there and make your shot."

Waiters finished 7 of 20 from the field, but he hit his final three shots to key a game-ending 13-0 run over Miami's final five possessions.

Utah took a 74-71 lead on a 3-point play from Rudy Gobert with 3:07 left. Waiters answered with back-to-back baskets to give the Heat the lead for good a minute later. He followed with a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws to cap the run.

"He had some rim in and out," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. "He just couldn't get them to go down. But I don't think he even notices if he's missing or not once we get to the last three or four minutes. He lives for those times and he stepped up and made some big plays."

Goran Dragic added 18 points to help the Heat win their second straight game. Miami (6-6) held the Jazz to 4-of-33 shooting (12.1 percent) in the second half. Utah's shooting struggles helped the Heat overcome 20 turnovers.

Spoelstra credited Hassan Whiteside, who finished with 20 rebounds, three blocks and three steals, with putting his defensive fingerprints on the game after halftime.

"I would say Hassan's eight-point game is one of the most inspiring games he's had in a Miami Heat uniform," Spoelstra said. "Really anchored our defense. Guys were making inspiring plays because of what they saw him doing."

Rodney Hood scored 19 points to lead the Jazz. Gobert chipped in 12 points and 12 rebounds and Donovan Mitchell and Alec Burks each scored 12 points for Utah (5-7), which has lost four straight -- three at home.

Hood's shooting offered a snapshot of the team's shooting struggles as a whole. He went 5 of 19 from the field and missed all 10 of his second-half field goal attempts.

"It's no time to think about it and pout about it," Hood said. "We play tomorrow. We know they eventually will fall. We're getting the looks, which is better instead of turning the ball over."

Utah carved out a five-point lead three times in the first quarter, going up 18-13 on a driving layup from Gobert. Miami used a 10-0 run to surge in front before the quarter ended. Kelly Olynyk ignited the run with a 3-pointer and Tyler Johnson finished it off with another to give the Heat a 23-18 lead.

The Jazz surged back in front when they got things cooking on the perimeter in the second quarter.

Burks and Mitchell buried back-to-back 3-pointers to spark a 16-2 run for Utah. Derrick Favors capped it off with a jumper to give the Jazz a 45-35 lead. Utah scored on six straight possessions over the course of the run.

Defensively, the Jazz held Miami without a field goal over the final 6:57 of the second quarter. The Heat missed nine shots in that stretch and managed just 12 points on 3-of-19 shooting in the quarter.

Miami turned the tables in the third quarter. Utah scored just one basket during the third quarter, going 1 of 18 from the field.

"Whether it's confidence, continuity or connectivity or whatever the case is, we just have to grind through it," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "There isn't a magic bullet right now that we're going to figure out. We'll keep trying to address the things we can."

The Heat ran off 11 unanswered points to open the second half before Gobert finally got the Jazz on the board with a free throw. Miami finally went ahead on a put-back layup from Whiteside and increased its lead to 57-52 when Dragic drove for another layup.

Utah hung around in the third quarter by getting to the line. Hood drained a pair of free throws to tie it at 57-57 heading into the fourth quarter.

NOTES: Jazz G Donovan Mitchell made his fourth start of the season in place of Rodney Hood. Mitchell averaged 10.3 points on 28.9 percent shooting in his three previous starts in October. ... Heat C Hassan Whiteside totaled 20 rebounds, giving him his fifth game with double-digit rebounds this season. ... Jazz C Rudy Gobert limped to the locker room after suffering a right knee contusion in the third quarter. Gobert returned and started the fourth quarter.

Related UPI Stories
Trending Stories