Miami • Aw, hell, the King.
Just when the Jazz had a glimmer of hope Saturday against the defending NBA champions — or the score, at least, suggested they did — the man you figured would intervene did just that.
He made layups frontward and backward; fall-away jump shots fell anyway. Playing their first game in Miami since their unforgettable double-overtime victory in 2010, the Jazz could do little to stop LeBron James as he led the Heat to a 105-89 win. It sent the Jazz (14-14) on to Orlando with a bruised ego, a banged-up point guard and badly at risk of falling to 1-3 on this road trip.
James scored 30 points, flirted with a triple-double (nine rebounds, seven assists) and scored 21 points in the second half.
"I don’t need to sit here and say how great LeBron James is," a dispirited Al Jefferson said. "He’s been proving that ever since he’s been in the league."
The scary thing — less for the Jazz and more for the rest of the league — is how effortlessly he seems to be doing it. James became the first player since Karl Malone in 1989-90 to start a season with 24 straight games with 20 or more points. On Saturday, he was 11 of 20 from the field and extended his streak without committing a foul to 27 quarters.
While the people of Miami can sit around and pat themselves on the back for being the benefactors of James’ talents, the prospects facing the Jazz are far less rosy.
Utah has lost five of its last six games, stands at 5-12 on the road and shot just 41 percent against the Heat, and who knows when Mo Williams will be back? The Jazz point guard strained his right thumb in the second quarter when, he said, he caught it on Mario Chalmers’ leg.
In postgame interviews, he compared the pain to an injury in 2008, when he tore a ligament in the thumb and required offseason surgery.
The Jazz fell behind by as much as 20 in the third quarter, and battled back to cut it to 10 after six straight points from Gordon Hayward. They cut it to 90-81 with 5:33 left in the game, but the Heat went on a 15-1 run over the next four minutes to put the game out of hand.
With Williams, the Jazz played the Heat to a 47-43 first half. Without him, they gave up eight straight points in the first minute and a half of the third quarter, which started with a James jumper. Shane Battier then hit back-to-back 3s, and the Jazz found themselves down 12.
While Williams can be hot and cold for the Jazz and his shots occasionally out of rhythm or the flow of the game, the Jazz clearly struggled without him.Next Page »