The Miami Heat don’t believe in statement wins.
This might have been one anyway.
Jimmy Butler scored a season-high 33 points, reserve Goran Dragic tied his season-best with 26 and the Heat beat Utah 124-116 on Friday night – handing the NBA-leading Jazz (26-7) just their third loss in their last 25 games.
“A high-level game,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said, “and we had some big plays down the stretch.”
Bam Adebayo scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for Miami, which has won a season-best five straight games. Duncan Robinson scored 15 and Kendrick Nunn added 12 for the Heat, who held Utah to 29 per cent shooting in the fourth quarter.
“I don’t want to say that we’re good yet,” Butler said. “I think we’ve got so much more to figure out. We’ve got so much more that we can be better at. Myself, anybody, I don’t want us to get complacent and think that we’re cool, we’re good. Nah, that’s not the case. We’ve got a long way to go.”
Donovan Mitchell scored 30 for the Jazz, but missed eight of his final nine shots. Utah got got 17 from Bojan Bogdanovic, 15 from Rudy Gobert, 14 from Mike Conley and 13 from Australian Joe Ingles.
“Tonight, we ran up on a team that really just out-executed us down the stretch,” Conley said. “They made plays when it mattered most.”
In Mephis, Kawhi Leonard scored 30 points, Lou Williams added 17 and the Clippers beat the Grizzlies 119-99 on Friday night to split a two-game series.
Terance Mann, Nicolas Batum and Paul George each had 13 points for the Clippers, 122-94 losers on Thursday night. A night after shooting 41 per cent from the field, Los Angeles connected on 55 per cent overall and 40 per cent from three-point range.
Elsewhere, De’Aaron Fox scored 27 points and the Sacramento Kings snapped a nine-game losing streak with a 110-107 victory over the Detroit Pistons.
In other early matches, the Boston Celtics beat the Indiana Pacers 118-112; the Toronto Raptors downed the Houston Rockets 122-111; the Phoenix Suns edged the Chicago Bulls 106-93 and the Oklahoma City Thunder were too strong for the Atlanta Hawks, 118-109.