"It hurt us," coach Tyrone Corbin said. "It took our pace and speed down. He’s one of our key guys, and we need all our key pieces — especially against a team like that."
With Williams out, the Jazz needed someone else to step up, and aside from nine second-half points from Gordon Hayward (who finished with 15 off the bench) it didn’t happen. Jefferson, who entered the game averaging a team-best 16.8 points, finished with six points and 10 rebounds. He scored fewer than 10 points for the second straight game.
"They fronted me," Jefferson said, "then when I did catch the ball, they double-teamed me."
The Jazz’s hot hand, Marvin Williams, had 12 points in the first quarter, but bewilderingly played just 15 minutes the rest of the game. He finished with 16 points.
Corbin spent the night trying to find an answer for James, playing both Williams and Paul Millsap on him. But James wasn’t the only problem for the Jazz. The Heat presented predictable issues for the Jazz. Their playmakers — James and Dwyane Wade — can beat nearly any defender off the dribble. If another player slides over to help, it inevitably leaves a man open — usually for 3.
"I feel like that happened a lot in the second half," Marvin Williams said, "and those guys made big shots."
The Heat made 11 of 24 3-pointers, including four by Battier and two each by Ray Allen and Mike Miller.
But the man throwing daggers? That was James.
"It’s no mystery," Marvin Williams said. "Like I said, man, he’s considered one of the best players in this world for a reason."
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