Jefferson, Hayward help Jazz stop Heat 104-97
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — LeBron James once scored 51 points against the Utah Jazz, and needed 50 on Monday night to become the youngest player to reach 20,000 for his career.
He almost got there.
James scored 32 for the Miami Heat, but the Jazz held on after nearly blowing a 21-point lead and won 104-97.
"We're trying to learn how to push a lead from 20 to 30 and close teams out, but we haven't been able to do that for whatever reason," said Jazz guard Gordon Hayward, who finished with 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting. "We need to be able to keep our foot on the gas and not be hesitant."
Dwyane Wade, who finished with 11 points on 5 of 11 shooting, did not get off the bench in the fourth quarter for the Heat.
"I don't know," Wade said. "I just always stay ready."
Miami pulled within two points on a free throw by Joel Anthony with 3:13 left, but James was called for goaltending and an offensive foul on back-to-back possessions, then missed a 3-pointer with the Heat trailing by six with 2:19 remaining.
His floater in the lane still had Miami within five with 1:25 left, but Hayward hit a 14-foot fadeaway shot with 40 seconds to seal it.
The basket came after yet another offensive rebound by Paul Millsap to give the Jazz a 19-0 edge on second-chance points.
"LeBron still got his numbers, so we didn't do much to control him. But we took everybody else out of the game and kept them from getting theirs," said Millsap, who finished with 17 points, nine rebounds and two steals.
"They got no second-chance points, so that was big for us. That means we finished the defensive possessions with a rebound and that let us get out and run a little bit. We controlled the tempo."
Al Jefferson also turned in a big game after being held to just six points in a 105-89 loss in Miami on Dec. 22. He had 10 after the first quarter and finished with a team-high 23 on 8-of-14 shooting, with 11 rebounds.
He also made 4 of 4 free throws down the stretch.
"The game was too close to be nervous," Jefferson said. "I knew they would make their run, they are too good. But when we were only up two, I didn't panic. I knew we had them in the penalty, so we just had to be aggressive."
It helped that Hayward got a shot to fall in a quarter that saw Utah make just four of 19 overall.
"They caused some trouble. They're a good defensive team and we were indecisive and hesitant," Hayward said of the fourth.
Early on, the Heat came out hot, and led 16-8 only to be outscored 37-13 over the next 11 minutes.
The Jazz turned the game with strong play from their reserves, solid defense, hot shooting and second effort. DeMarre Carroll come off the bench to score seven points in four minutes and Jefferson shot 5 of 8 to give the Jazz a 30-25 lead after the first quarter.
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