The Jazz hadn’t won on the road in over a month, but on Wednesday in Miami, Gordon Hayward stepped up and helped Utah stop that trend.
G-Time went off for 29 points on 9-of-13 shooting to go with seven assists and six rebounds, guiding the Jazz to a dominant 105-87 victory over the Heat at American Airlines Arena. He tallied 13 points in the first quarter to send his squad out to a 33-16 lead—but from start to finish, No. 20 credited the team’s defense in the victory. Utah survived a 42-point night from Dwyane Wade to pull off the win.
“A big-time win for us,” Gordon said. “We guarded. Defensively, we were really good. We were active, there were contested shots, we were over on the weak side. Our defense is what got us that big of a lead.”
Offensively, it all started off the dribble for Gordon and the Jazz. No. 20 attacked the basket early and often, putting the Heat on their heels and creating easy scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates.
“It’s a battle in itself, guarding D-Wade,” No. 20 said of his night in Miami. “But my teammates got me involved early, I got some threes finally to go down, and when you see them go down, it makes the game a lot easier.”
After Gordon drove and knocked down a step-back jumper to start his night, he quickly found his rhythm. G-Time buried two threes from the same spot on the right wing and went 4-of-5 from the floor in the first. Additionally, he set up Trey Burke on a wide-open triple and laced a pass through traffic to give Trevor Booker an open look from the baseline.
As Utah head coach Quin Synder attested after the game, the strong start by Gordon, and his communication and activity early, helped the Jazz get off on the right foot.
“The biggest thing we’re trying to impress on Gordon is just his communication on the court,” Snyder said. “He’s an intelligent player. He’s got a lot to give his teammates in addition to his ability to make baskets, get rebounds and things. The more we can hear his voice, I think it has a positive impact. From the very beginning of the game, you could hear our guys talking to each other. There was a connectivity on defense that we’ve been looking for.”
A turning point came when G-Time knocked down his first three to break an 11-11 tie at the 6:16 mark. From there, Utah ended the first quarter on a 22-5 run.
“They are a very good attacking team, a paint team, a team that gets offensive rebounds off of those opportunities,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “And they hit some right in our face and then from there the flood gates just kind of opened up after that.”
Gordon knocked down three free throws as a part of his big first quarter and went 7-of-7 from the stripe on the night. But behind Wade, the Heat battled back in the second.
The star Miami guard poured on 17 points in the second quarter and was red-hot throughout, accumulating his 42 points off 12-of-19 shooting and 16-of-21 at the line. But Wade had little help as the Jazz did their best to contain Miami’s other options. Only one other Heat player was in double figures: Mario Chalmers, who had just 11 points.
As great as Wade’s second frame was, it shaved just three points off the Utah lead, and the Jazz headed to the locker room with a comfortable 14-point cushion, 55-41. Gordon had two more assists in the second, one on a Burke three and another on an Enes Kanter bucket underneath. He also buried yet another triple in the final minute of the half.
“For portions of the game, Gordon Hayward was the best player on the court,” wrote David Smith in the Deseret News. “Hayward had another marvelous, all-around performance. He was the model of efficiency, scoring a team-high 29 points on just 13 field goal attempts. He connected on 4-of-5 3-pointers and all seven of his free throws. Add in seven assists and six rebounds and you’ve got an All-Star caliber game.”
With the big lead in hand, the Jazz came out of the break with a clear defensive mindset. They held the Heat to just 30 percent shooting in the third quarter, but they weren’t afraid to grab easy points where available.
Utah had four of its 22 points on fast breaks in the second, including a smooth pull-up baseline jumper off the hand of Hayward. He also had two more dimes in the third: a drive and kick out to Kanter for a baseline three, and a feed down low to Kanter for two.
The Jazz center kept up his recent hot streak, tallying 18 points and six rebounds. Kanter has averaged 20.5 points and eight boards through the last four games, including a double-double and two performances with 25 points or more. The Kanter-Hayward connection had the Jazz up 77-59 after 36 minutes.
This young Utah team has seen its share of leads dwindle away against veteran squads like the Heat throughout this season, including allowing 41 points in the fourth quarter to blow a 14-point lead Tuesday night against the New Orleans Pelicans. But this time, Gordon and Co. were determined to prevent that from happening—which made Snyder a happy coach.
“We’ve tried to maintain our composure,” Snyder said of his young squad. “A lot of times we’ve let teams make runs off our mistakes. There were a few times where that happened[tonight], but it didn’t happen three or four times—it happened once or twice, and we were able to respond. Those are things that, as we mature as a group, we’ll be better at. Some of it you learn from experience, and the sting from having that happen to you, like it did last night and in previous games, makes you more aware.”
The Jazz did turn the ball over seven times in the fourth, resulting in 12 easy points for the Heat, who were paced by 15 points from Wade in the fourth. Those mistakes allowed Miami to cut the lead to 11 before Gordon re-entered at the 6:28 mark.
“We started super slow there in the fourth and though maybe it was going to be the same thing as New Orleans, but we picked it up and played defensively extremely well tonight.” Gordon said. “We really picked up our energy and were a lot more active. Coach always talks about activity and action and helping out on the weak side, and for the most part, besides D-Wade, we did a good job playing defense.”
Once Gordon was back on the floor, he went toe-to-toe with Wade and came out standing tall.
He first knocked down a tough fallaway jumper from midrange. When Wade answered with a jumper of his own, Gordon struck back with perhaps his biggest shot of the night.
No. 20 curled around a screen and found himself guarded by big man Chris Andersen. He took advantage of the mismatch, feigning a drive before stepping back behind the arc and knocking down an enormous three ball as the shot clock sounded to extend Utah’s lead to 14.
G-Time’s dagger not only deflated the Heat, but it revitalized the Jazz. On the very next possession, Alec Burks followed suit, knocking down a three of his own to make it a 17-point lead.
Wade came through with a few last-ditch buckets, but Utah never let up. Gordon finished with one assist and nine points on a perfect 3-of-3 shooting in the fourth, and the Jazz salted away the win without worry.
As Snyder said afterward, the effort wasn’t anything extraordinary for Utah. The young team has brought strong performances night in and night out almost all season long. But on this night, they were rewarded with a big victory.
“There’s one thing these guys will do … we are going to play hard and compete,” Snyder said. “It’s nice when that gets rewarded on the scoreboard.”
Utah (7-19) will remain in the Sunshine State for a Thursday off day and heads up to Orlando looking to build off that win when they takes on the Magic (10-18) Friday night.
The Jazz will look to exact some revenge against the Magic, whom they fell to, 98-93, at home earlier this month. Utah fell behind early in that contest and couldn’t quite claw their way back, a scenario Gordon hopes his squad can avoid this time around.
“We have to make sure we don’t come out and get blown out,” Gordon said. “Anytime you go on the road and get in a hole, it’s hard to come back. For us that’s been the key. We’ve been playing well lately in first quarters, and we’re going to have to do that again.
Orlando is currently on a two-game losing streak after falling on the road to the Toronto Raptors and the Boston Celtics to start the week.
Tipoff is set for 5 p.m. MST from Orlando’s Amway Center. Root Sports will have the broadcast.
- The Roundup — Jazz 105, heat 87 (UtahJazz.com, Dec. 17, 2014)
- Gordon Hayward outduels Dwyane Wade (Deseret News, Dec. 18, 2014)
- Jazz add to Heat woes, top Miami 105, 87 (AP, Dec. 17, 2014)
- Jazz pick up rare road win against Heat (Deseret News, Dec. 17, 2014)
- Complete performance gives Jazz dominant win in Miami (Salt Lake Tribune, Dec. 17, 2014)
- Derrick Favors starts against Miami Heat (Salt Lake Tribune, Dec. 17, 2014)
- Wade scores 42, but youth prevails (SLC Dunk, Dec. 17, 2014)
- Jazz at Heat: Game Book (NBA.com, Dec. 17, 2014)