03 March 2012
The stage was set for yet another thrilling, storybook ending between the Miami Heat and the Utah Jazz Friday night at Energy Solutions Arena.
For the second straight game the Jazz played host to a sizzling hot team. Miami had won nine straight leading up to Friday, with Lebron James playing like a man possessed! The Jazz would need a great performance to be able to beat the Heat and get momentum on their side as they head out for a five game road trip.
What followed was incredible.
After a starters duel that ended in a one point match in the first quarter, the bench came in. And the Jazz went on a roll. The offense was a thing of beauty. It was purring like a smooth, well oiled engine. Behind 19 bench points the Jazz scored a 30 point second quarter and took a 13 point lead into the half. The second half began just as the first half had ended with the Jazz putting the foot on the gas pedal, jumping out to an 18 point lead in the third quarter.
Then it happened...
Just when you thought the Jazz had Miami right where they wanted them, on the ropes, on the second night of a back to back...it happened, or should I say Lebron happened. Lebron got hot...SIZZLING HOT! He drained ridiculous shot after ridiculous shot, scoring 17 of his game high 35 in the 4th.
But what unfolded was something that a very young Jazz team needed. It’s no secret that the Jazz had struggled in close games this season, I believe the record is 3-4. They have struggled to close out games. So it should be no surprise when Lebron hit his second straight long range jumper...the one that had us all shaking our heads...yeah that one. You could hear a collective “not again” coming from Jazz fans.
Miami Heat's Lebron James shoots against the Utah Jazz during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Salt Lake City, Friday, March 2, 2012. The Jazz defeated the Heat 99-98.
The the amazing happened. The one guy that has been scrutinized more by Jazz fan all year than any other player on the roster made a play. Devin Harris. Yes I said Devin Harris. The heady, smart, crafty vet happened. With time running down, he drove the lane putting up one of his patented floater that found the back of the iron and the front of the iron...and rolled in...AND ONE! After hitting the free throw, the Heat had one last chance. Lebron working the pick and roll with Haslem found his forward for an 18 foot jumper that came off the iron.
This game featured some of the best basketball I’ve seen the Jazz play all season. The offense was fluid. It was as smooth as butter. Crisp cuts. Clean passes. Precision shots. Everyone moved. No standing around. And lots...I mean LOTS of energy. The Offense was pristine! The Jazz ended the night with 22 assists and only 11 turnovers. The team seemed to trust each other, playing unselfishly.
LeBron James of the Miami Heat reacts next to Devin Harris during the second half of play at the Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City Friday, March 2, 2012. Jazz won the game in the final seconds, 99-98. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News)
Devin Harris continues to dictate the pace of the offense well. He finished with just 13 and 5 assists, but it was his energy, including on the defensive end that provided just what the Jazz needed to get a win. Both Devin and Big Al carried the Jazz home to a victory combining for 11 of the team’s 21 4th quarter points. It was the veterans, the “Old Dogs”(as my man Clint Peterson wrote), that put the team on their backs when the game was on the line.
Enes Kanter had another big night. His work ethic continues to pay off, as he finished the night with 11 points and 6 rebounds in just 16 minutes of play. I don’t know if anyone noticed but he’s learning to keep the ball high when rebounding the basketball, giving him better opportunities to finish at the rim. He also provided some impressive post moves as he muscled his way around in the paint, including a couple of nice fade away jumpers in the 4th quarter.
Enes Kanter of the Utah Jazz puts up a shot over Udonis Haslem of the Miami Heat during the second half of play at the Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City Friday, March 2, 2012. Jazz won the game in the final seconds, 99-98. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News)
The Jazz finished the night with 29 second chance points off 23 offensive rebounds. They hustled to every loose ball, every rebound, dominating the glass as they should have against a Heat team that does not have the size inside to match.
So “Miracle in Miami” is reprised in Salt Lake City. And another thrilling chapter, in this ever growing storybook fantasy, is written. It just keeps getting better and better.
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