Confetti fell from the rafters, and fans stood on their feet, screaming and applauding as if they had just witnessed a championship victory.
It was not, of course.
The parade planners can still focus on South Beach over South Salt Lake. But in beating the Miami Heat 94-89 Saturday night, the Utah Jazz have a win of which they can be proud.
“Them being great, it’s easy to get up for them,” Jazz coach Ty Corbin said of the defending champions. “These guys are great. Our locker room should be excited about the effort tonight and should be excited about a great win. [Miami is] the best team in the world.”
The win was even more surprising giving Utah’s performance the night before in Dallas, when the Mavericks ran roughshod over them. After the loss, the Jazz’s fourth in a row, forward Marvin Williams had words for his teammates.
“We were disappointed in our effort,” he said.
“It was an answer game,” Richard Jefferson said.
For the Jazz, Williams was again instrumental, matching his season high with 23 points — his third game in a row with 20 or more. Twelve of those points came in the first quarter, as the Jazz blitzed the Heat, jumping out to a 32-20 lead.
Utah pushed the advantage to 14 before Miami made a game of it.
Behind 19 points from All-Star guard Dwyane Wade, the Heat rallied to recapture the lead late in the second quarter.
But the Jazz, lifeless the night before, responded this time.
Guard Alec Burks, who was held scoreless in Dallas, had 12 points of the bench. Center Enes Kanter keyed an early fourth quarter run by crashing the glass and finishing at the rim.
The play staggered the Heat.
“I think you’re always kind of waiting for them to turn it on, but we didn’t let them get going tonight,” said Gordon Hayward, who fell just shy of a triple-double, with nine points, nine rebounds and 11 assists.
The Jazz held reigning MVP LeBron James to his season low, though no one on the team would take credit for the feat.
“I think LeBron might have held LeBron to 13 points,” Williams said. “There’s nobody that can stop LeBron from scoring the basket.”
Williams, who went scoreless in the second half Friday after scoring 20 first-half points, proved himself key in the final quarter Saturday. When the Heat cut the lead to four, Williams drained one of his five 3-pointers. The next trip down the floor, Jefferson fell to his knees scrambling for a loose ball and spotted Williams on the wing.
Williams drained an off-balance triple with the clock expiring.
The Heat got within two in the game’s final minutes, thanks to a Ray Allen 3-pointer.
At that point, Jazz rookie Trey Burke put on the finishing touches. Burke calmly dribbled out the clock and hit a 19-foot jumper.
“The coaches trusted me,” said Burke, who had 13 points and three assists. “The players trusted me. 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.”
The victory was Utah’s third in a row at home over Miami.
The win snapped a four-game losing streak, and improved the Jazz’s record to 17-33 with winnable games against the Lakers and the 76ers on the horizon.
“This season is about learning. It’s about growing. It’s about a process,” said Jefferson, who scored 14 points and grabbed four rebounds. “It’s not about winning percentages. It’s not about winning streaks. We understand that. … We focus on how we play, playing the right way. Not necessarily wins and losses.
“Although wins are definitely better than losses.”
R The Jazz hold LeBron James to 13 points, which matched his season low, on 4-of-13 shooting.
• Marvin Williams hits five 3-pointers for the second straight night.