SALT LAKE CITY — Considering the limited amount of victories the Utah Jazz have, it is not surprising that their victory Saturday night ranked at the top of their best wins of the year.
Likewise, their win was one of the bigger surprises of the 2013-14 season.
Forward Marvin Williams tied his season high with 23 points and rookie point guard Trey Burke hit a late clutch jumper as the Jazz stunned the Miami Heat 94-89 at EnergySolutions Arena.
“Our locker room should be excited about the effort that they gave tonight,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “And they should be excited about the great win.”
Williams hit 5 of 8 3-pointers, including back-to-back shots late in the fourth quarter to give the Jazz an eight-point lead that proved big enough to withstand Miami’s final surge.
Williams put this victory up with the Jazz’s 111-105 win over New Orleans on Nov. 13. That one was significant because it was Utah’s first of the season after an 0-8 start.
“Definitely the top three. Outside of that first one (of the season), I can’t think of a bigger win than this one,” Williams said. “The guys really responded from last night (a 103-81 loss in Dallas), and it’s a good feeling to come back and play like that.”
Miami missed its final four shots as its three-game winning streak was snapped. Guard Dwyane Wade led the Heat (35-14) with 19 points and forwards LeBron James and Chris Bosh scored just 13 points apiece on a combined 7-of-25 shooting from the field.
“We never could get over that hump,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Particularly from that first quarter where they really jumped us and blitzed us and used their energy and youth and athleticism to take that double-digit lead. But at the end of the day, we still had some plays to make down the stretch and they made more of them.”
Williams and Burke made the biggest plays.
Burke, who was just named Western Conference rookie of the month, hit the clutch shot of the game with a mid-range jumper with 24.2 remaining to put the Jazz ahead 93-89. That shot came seconds after Miami guard Ray Allen’s 3-pointer made it a two-point game.
“The coaches trusted me. The players trusted me,” Burke said. “I felt like some of the shots that I usually make weren’t falling tonight and haven’t been falling the past couple of games. But they continue to come to me and tell me to play, play with confidence, don’t think about it, just play freely. That’s what I did tonight.”
Burke finished with 13 points, small forward Richard Jefferson scored 14 and shooting guard Gordon Hayward flirted with a triple-double, contributing 11 assists, nine rebounds and nine points for the Jazz.
The win was Utah’s third straight over Miami at home and snapped a four-game skid.
The Heat were in Utah on Friday while the Jazz stumbled to a 103-81 loss in Dallas. But even though Miami had three days off since beating the Clippers 116-112 on Wednesday night in Los Angeles, it was the Jazz who came out with more energy.
After falling behind 4-0, the Jazz took a 6-4 lead on back-to-back 3-pointers by Williams and Jefferson.
Williams scored five more points in an 8-0 spurt later in the first quarter and Utah eventually went ahead by 14 points in the first half.
Chalmers capped a 16-6 spurt toward the end of the second quarter with a 3-pointer that gave Miami its first lead since the beginning of the game.
Utah, however, finished the half with some momentum when Williams hit a deep shot for a 52-50 halftime lead. This was the second night in a row the Jazz forward drained five 3-pointers.
The Jazz maintained that two-point edge through the third quarter before increasing its lead to eight in the fourth after Williams’ treys. His second three was an off-balanced heave that he barely unleashed in time to beat the shot clock. It put Utah up 87-79 with 3:34 remaining.
“That three Marvin Williams hit at the end of the shot clock hurt us a little bit as we were making our run,” Wade said. “We still had a chance to come back, and we gave ourselves a chance to win. From that stance, we did our job. We just didn’t come out with the victory.”
The Heat, the NBA’s top-shooting team, only shot 43.3 percent from the field and scored 15 points below their season average. Miami made a franchise-record 63.4 percent of its shots from the floor against Utah in 117-94 blowout in Miami on Dec. 16.
“We played well enough defensively to win the game,” James said. “Offensively, we didn’t shoot the ball well like we are capable of doing. That is what it came down to.”
NOTES: Miami C Chris Bosh admittedly isn’t much of a Winter Olympics fan, but he joked that he could see the creative F LeBron James excel as a figure skater and kidded about a possible different sport for SG Dwyane Wade. “He’s short, so he could do that speedskating,” Bosh told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. … Miami had not won in Utah since a 111-98 victory on Dec. 8, 2010. The Jazz won the last two meetings between the teams at EnergySolutions Arena. … Upon urging by Jazz assistant Sidney Lowe, rookie PG Trey Burke watched Miami SG Ray Allen warm up before Saturday’s game. Allen then took Burke to the side and had an extended conversation with him. “He was basically trying to help me figure out how to get into a regular routine that I can stay consistent with,” Burke said. “He said it will definitely help you out on the court. … You always like talking to vets like that.”
Rockets spoil Griffin’s return in testy affair
If James Harden needed any extra motivation against the Los Angeles Clippers, he found it in the first half.
Harden scored 34 points, and the Rockets held on for a 100-98 victory over the Clippers in a sometimes testy affair on Sunday at Staples Center.
Point guard Chris Paul, who finished with 23 points, missed a contested shot at the buzzer that would have forced overtime.
“It was very important for us just to go out there and play well,” said Harden, who hit seven of 16 shots from the floor, three of five from 3-point range and 17 of 18 free throws. “The last two games we kind of struggled a little bit, but we got our pop back a little bit today, and it was a good win for us.”
Harden provided much of that pop, particularly in the second quarter after Clippers forward Matt Barnes was whistled for a flagrant-1 foul after pushing Harden to the court at 6:02. Harden scored 15 of his 18 points in the period after that, leading the Rockets to a 58-50 halftime lead.
Did the flagrant foul add more fuel for the Rockets’ All-Star guard and MVP candidate?
“Yeah. Things like that are fun,” said Harden, who had 24 points in the first half. “We have fun, we got boosted off of that.”
The win ended a two-game skid for the Rockets (44-22). Houston forward Trevor Ariza scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while forward Terrence Jones added 16 points and 12 boards.
“This was a win that we needed, especially on the road,” Ariza said. “Going into the home stretch, these are the types of games we have to win.”
Los Angeles forward Blake Griffin returned after missing 15 games due to surgery on his right elbow. Griffin had 11 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, but committed five turnovers in 41 minutes.
“I didn’t think I played well,” said Griffin, who managed 4-of-10 shooting. “I was out of rhythm. Way too many turnovers, obviously.”
Barnes scored 19 points and guard J.J. Redick had 15 for the Clippers (42-24), who fell into a tie for the No. 5 spot in the Western Conference standings with the Dallas Mavericks.
Paul lamented a host of turnovers in the defeat, including a critical one involving center DeAndre Jordan.
“I had some bad turnovers,” said Paul, who committed three of the Clippers’ 20 miscues compared to 13 for the Rockets. “On one, I drove it off DeAndre’s foot, the other one I lost towards the end of the half. We have to take better care of the ball. We still had an opportunity to win, but we just didn’t do it.”
The Clippers came back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit. Paul scored seven straight points, capping it with a 3-point basket to tie the score at 96 with 3:05 left in the game. Houston got a 3-pointer by Jones, but Barnes countered with a basket to keep Los Angeles within 99-98 with 1:35 left. Los Angeles, though, never scored again.
Griffin got a steal as Ariza attempted a pass to Harden, but Ariza drew a charging foul as Griffin bolted to the bucket with 12 seconds remaining. Griffin remained unhappy about the call after the game.
“If I speak on that, I’ll get fined,” Griffin said.
Harden hit one of two foul shots with 8.9 seconds left, capping the scoring before Paul failed to connect on a jumper in the lane with Ariza defending.
The Rockets outscored Los Angeles 36-20 in the second quarter despite making just 38.5 percent of their shots compared to 44.4 percent for the Clippers. Overall, the Clippers hit 43.9 percent to 37.2 percent for the Rockets. They also held an edge in 3-point shooting, converting 12 of 26 attempts to seven of 30 for Houston. The Rockets, though were 29 of 36 from the foul line to 14 of 24 for Los Angeles.
Jordan finished with 20 rebounds and four blocks.
NOTES: F Blake Griffin’s return benefits PG Chris Paul as much as any Clipper. “Teams have been able to trap (Paul) far more than they can when Blake is on the floor because of (Griffin’s) ability to pass,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “I’m sure CP is the happiest of all to have him back.” … Rivers isn’t sure if injured G Jamal Crawford would return before the playoffs. Crawford has missed six games with a right calf contusion. … Rockets C Dwight Howard sat out his 18th game with a right knee edema. “He’s doing everything he can, he’s trying to get better, but until you’re on the floor, it’s impossible to say,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said regarding Howard’s return. … Both clubs resume play Tuesday. Houston hosts the Orlando Magic, while Los Angeles plays the Charlotte Hornets at Staples Center.
Spurs’ Ginobili sprains ankle
SAN ANTONIO — Guard Manu Ginobili was helped off the floor late in the third quarter of the San Antonio Spurs’ game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday due to a sprained right ankle.
Ginobili went down with 43 seconds left in the quarter and with the Spurs leading the Timberwolves by 30 points. He was immediately was led to the locker room, and he did not put any weight on his right leg as he was carried off the court. He did not return to the game.
In 19 minutes during the Spurs’ 123-97 win over the Timberwolves, Ginobili scored 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting. He battled a stomach illness last week, forcing him to miss a game against the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday and leading him to play limited minutes against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday.
NBA notebook: Clippers’ Griffin cleared to return
Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin, out the last 15 games with an elbow injury, was cleared to return Sunday against the Houston Rockets.
Griffin had surgery five weeks ago to remove a staph infection in his right elbow.
“He said, ‘I’m ready,'” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said before Sunday’s game. “Yesterday the trainers called me and said, ‘If he can go, he can go. He’s been cleared.'”
Rivers said timing likely will be an adjustment for Griffin.
“Timing is timing,” Rivers said. “You lose it when you don’t play in an NBA game. Sometimes you come back and you play great the first game and then you lose your timing. Sometimes it doesn’t. As far as the way we play, it won’t be hard for him at all.”
In 51 games this season, Griffin is averaging 22.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists.
–Spurs guard Manu Ginobili had to be helped off the floor late in the third quarter against Minnesota on Sunday. Ginobili went down with 43 seconds left in the quarter and with the Spurs leading the Timberwolves by 30 points.
He was helped off the floor and immediately was led to the locker room. He did not put any weight on his right leg as he was carried off the court.
Up to that point, Ginobili had scored 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting in 19 minutes. He battled a stomach illness last week, forcing him to miss a game against Toronto and play limited minutes against Cleveland on March 12.
–Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr sent emails to three fans who were disappointed that he rested several prominent players, including All-Star guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, in Friday’s loss to the Nuggets in Denver.
“There’s two really good sides to the story,” Kerr said, according to the Associated Press report. “Nobody’s wrong here. … I can’t argue with them.”
Kerr received an email from a family that drove from South Dakota to Denver to see Curry, Thompson and the entertaining Warriors play. But Curry, Thompson, center Andrew Bogut and reserve guard Andre Iguodala did not play so they could be rested, and the Warriors lost 114-103.
“I heard from some fans. I received a few emails, stories about driving in from a long distance off and spending a lot of money on tickets,” Kerr said. “I have great sympathy for those people. I really do. It’s a tricky one. It’s something that I think Adam Silver is trying to address through the scheduling shuffling that he’s talking about.
–The Dallas Mavericks recalled center/forward Dwight Powell from the Texas Legends of the NBA Development League on Sunday.
The 6-foot-11, 240-pound Powell played in one game during his most recent assignment to the D-League and finished with 28 points, five rebounds and two assists to lead the Legends in a 115-89 win over the Austin Spurs on Saturday night.
Powell has appeared in 19 games for the Mavericks this season, averaging 3.5 points and 2.2 rebounds in 10.0 minutes per game.
–The Atlanta Hawks signed forward Austin Daye to a 10-day contract Sunday.
Daye appeared in 26 games (four starts) earlier this season with the San Antonio Spurs, averaging 4.0 points and 2.3 rebounds in 10.3 minutes.
In 10 games this season with the Erie BayHawks of the NBA Development League, Daye has averaged 16.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.1 blocks in 28.5 minutes.
–The Miami Heat recalled guard Zoran Dragic from the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the NBA Development League on Sunday.
Zoran appeared in four games (one start) and averaged 16.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.50 steals, helping the Skyforce to a 3-1 record over that span.