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Dion Waiters steps up late in 84-74 Heat win in Utah

Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel on

Published in Basketball

SALT LAKE CITY -- Erik Spoelstra joked before the game about the impending offensive explosion.

"I think both teams are going to come out and try to score 140 points," the Heat coach said. "A lot of up, down. A ton of threes. Quick shots."

Or not.

Just Miami Heat 84, Utah Jazz 74 Friday night at Vivint Smart Home Arena, courtesy of late daggers from Dion Waiters, who like the game itself for the Heat, went from ice cold to sizzling when needed.

Here's what this one offered:

-- A 12-point Heat second quarter.

-- Followed by an eight-point Jazz third quarter.

-- And a 57-57 tie going into the fourth.

In a game where there was surplus of rebounds, Heat center Hassan Whiteside feasted, winning his duel against Rudy Gobert and closing with eight points and 20 rebounds.

In a game where scoring was desperately needed, Heat guard Goran Dragic got the message at halftime, when he stood 1 of 7 from the field, coming around to close with 18 points.

And in a game that needed someone to step up and seize control, Waiters did just that, with a pair of late jumpers, then an assist for a Josh Richardson 3-pointer and then another 3-pointer of his own, in what turned into a 21-point game of his own.

In the end, for all the lack of artistry that preceded it, it came down to a compelling finish, the teams tied 69-69 midway through the final period and then 71-71 with just under four minutes to play.

A 3-point play by Gobert then put the Jazz up 74-71 with just over three minutes to play.

But that's when Dion Waiters, at 4 of 17 to that stage, drained a 3-pointer for a 74-74 tie.

Waiters then followed with a jumper for a 76-74 Heat lead, similar to his two late clutch jumpers in Wednesday night's victory over the Phoenix Suns.

And then came a dagger off a Waiters assist, a 3-pointer from Richardson for a 79-74 Heat lead with 1:27 left.

After the Jazz clanked another 3-pointer, Waiters went all Philly Cheese with another 3-pointer for an 82-74 Heat lead.

Game.

Despite shooting just 1 of 18 in the third period and only scoring eight points in the quarter, the Jazz nonetheless were able to go into the fourth tied.

The Heat not only delivered a seeming gut punch of an 18-3 run to start the second half, but that also is when Gobert went down with 3:53 left in the third period, hobbling to the Utah locker room after a collision with Waiters as play continued. It proved to be only a knee bruise, with Gobert returning midway through the fourth quarter.

With Whiteside limited to 13 minutes in the first half, despite playing the half without a foul, the Heat were outscored 24-14 in the paint over the first two periods and down 49-37 at the intermission.

Utah closed the second period on a 20-4 run.

The Heat scored just 12 points on 3 of 19 shooting in the second period, with only Tyler Johnson, with 10 points, in double figures at that stage.

The Jazz, by contrast, shot 5 of 5 on 3-pointers in the second quarter.

The Heat had six total assists and nine turnovers at halftime.

Spoelstra lifted Whiteside five minutes into the game amid the Heat's 4-of-13 start from the field.

After falling behind by five in the opening period, the Heat then went up by five, before going into the second period ahead 25-22.

Spoelstra stayed with Justise Winslow as his starting power forward, despite the considerable height and weight advantage of the Jazz's Derrick Favors.

The Heat starting lineup again was rounded out by Dragic, Waiters, Josh Richardson and Whiteside.

The Heat had Tyler Johnson back, after he missed Wednesday's victory over the Phoenix Suns due to illness. Johnson converted all three of his shots in a seven-point first quarter.

The game was the fifth of the Heat's six-game trip that concludes Sunday against the Detroit Pistons, before the team's first home game in two week, Wednesday against the Washington Wizards.

This was the first game of a two-game season series that concludes Jan. 7 at AmericanAirlines Arena.

The teams split the two-game series each of the past five seasons, with the Heat winning two of the previous three meetings in Utah, including last season.

It was the second game of a four-game homestand for the Jazz, who entered on a three-game losing streak.

(c)2017 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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