Miami • As the minutes and seconds ticked down in Miami, Dwyane Wade and Donovan Mitchell found themselves in a battle of old vs. new.
Possession after possession, Mitchell and Wade traded attacking plays down the stretch. And in this contest, presumably the penultimate one between the two in the final season of Wade’s Hall-of-Fame-caliber career, Wade got the win.
Mitchell missed his two shots in the game’s final minute, while Wade scored the game-winning points at the free-throw line to push Miami to a 102-100 win over the Utah Jazz at American Airlines Arena.
This summer, Mitchell and Wade spent time together in Florida as Mitchell sought to learn from Wade’s career. For his part, Wade hoped to share what he’d gathered during a 16-year NBA career in which he was a 12-time All-Star. And there was reason Mitchell was selected to join Wade: their trademark balletic movement around the rim, their similar body sizes, their prodigious scoring as NBA rookies 15 years apart.
That led up to a lot of hype around this game, with the game’s two coaches agreeing with the comparison.
“I know he’s someone who Donovan really really looks up to. He’s studied him. We’ve actually watched a lot of tape of D. Wade, just seeing Dwyane, his body balance, how he’s able to finish midrange, and really, his passing,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “The versatility, the competitiveness, the confidence, that’s certainly something for Donovan to aspire to. Some of it’s that those two guys are gifted, and hopefully Donovan can continue to progress the way Dwyane has.”
Heat coach Eric Spoelstra agreed. “I think Donovan has a class to him that’s similar to Dwyane. He has a similar body type and explosiveness, and the ability to get in the paint. That’s a pretty good guy to be compared to.”
The two traded jerseys after the buzzer and stood for photos. But while it was all hunky-dory in the end, the battle down the stretch clearly meant a lot to both players.
With the game tied at 100 thanks to a Ricky Rubio 3-pointer, Mitchell attacked the rim but missed the layup amid contact with 20 seconds left. Wade got the ball and got to the rim off the dribble, meeting Gobert at the rim. At first, it seemed Gobert had legally stopped Wade’s shot, but a whistle blew, sending Wade to the line for two free throws to put the Heat up.
Gobert wasn’t pleased with the whistle after the game.
“They can't be deciding the issue of a game just like that,” Gobert said in the midst of a lengthy comment on the officiating in the contest. “If you call a foul on the play on D. Wade, Donovan got pushed harder right before.”
With three seconds left, Snyder drew up a play to get Mitchell an open 3-point look to win the game. But though the shot was open, it hit iron and missed, ending the contest with the Heat win.
Those aren’t the only missed opportunities the Jazz will rue, though. Utah got out to an extremely hot start as the game began, getting out to a 35-16 lead over the Heat in just over 10 minutes on the court. But then everything went cold for the Jazz: 14 straight shots missed and a 20-0 Heat run finished the first and continued all the way to the 5:39 mark of the second quarter.
Remarkably, though, for those last five minutes, the Jazz managed to score 20 points and lose the quarter by only 6.
That led to a extremely close second half in which neither team led by more than two possessions. In fact, it was a one-possession game for all but two minutes of the final 24, setting up the game’s dramatic final moments that ended in Jazz defeat.
Rubio led the Jazz with 23 points on the night, while Mitchell finished with 15. Hassan Whiteside’s 23 points led Miami.
The Jazz return home for a game Tuesday against the San Antonio Spurs at 7 p.m.
As they face off in Dwyane Wade’s final season, Donovan Mitchell misses two shots in the final minute, while Wade finds himself at the free-throw line for the game’s winning points.
Wade’s free throws are controversial, especially in the context of other calls down the stretch that didn’t go in the Jazz’s direction.
The Jazz get out to an early 35-16 lead, but the bench squanders it away, allowing the Heat to go on a 20-0 run as the Jazz didn’t score for over 8 minutes of game time.