Utah Jazz at Miami Heat instant reactions: When will this get fun again?

Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (0) drives the ball against Utah Jazz's Donovan Mitchell (45) in the fourth quarter on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018 at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Fla. The Miami Heat defeated the Utah Jazz, 103-102. (Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (0) drives the ball against Utah Jazz's Donovan Mitchell (45) in the fourth quarter on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018 at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Fla. The Miami Heat defeated the Utah Jazz, 103-102. (Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images) /

Despite another strong performance from Donovan Mitchell, late game struggles doomed the Utah Jazz as they lost a tightly contested battle 103-102 on the road against the Miami Heat.

The Utah Jazz were able to hold two of the Miami Heat’s top scorers, Goran Dragic and Tyler Johnson, to just 16 points each. However, the Heat’s balanced attack combined with opportunistic plays late in the game proved too much for Utah’s valiant effort.

Here are a few of my thoughts on Utah’s Sunday afternoon  battle with the Heat…

Road struggles continue

It has been 23 days since the Jazz have won a game on the road. Today’s matchup with the Heat marked Utah’s seventh straight road loss and dropped them to a combined 3-17 on the road for the season.

Utah’s last road victory came on December 15th in a 107-95 win over the Boston Celtics. Many NBA pundits claim that “defense travels”, however, that couldn’t be further from the truth for this Jazz squad.

Utah ranks as one of the league’s top defensive clubs at home, however they drop to a bottom-ten team on the defensive end when they play away from Salt Lake City.

While the Jazz played sound defense for most of Sunday’s matchup with the Heat, their intensity seemed nonexistent in the final few minutes of the game. This ultimately led to Utah’s demise.

If the Jazz want to fix their road struggles and try to get back into playoff contention in the Western Conference, they will need to figure out how to play at a top-ten level defensively on the road.

Mr. Second-half

The third quarter belonged to Donovan Mitchell. After shooting just 3-of-12 for eight points in the first half, Mitchell opened the flood gates to begin the second half. Mitchell scored Utah’s first 11 points of the quarter. Mitchell went on the finish the quarter with 13 points, including this jaw-dropping slam…

Get this man into the dunk contest.

The rookie made another strong case to be selected as an All-Star by finishing with 27 points on 12-of-25 shooting to go along with three assists.

Really though, let’s get the Spider to LA. Jazz fans, tweet “Donovan Mitchell” with #NBAvote NOW.

Mitchell’s increased role was on display on the game’s final play as coach Quin Snyder decided to put the ball in his rookie’s hands with just over five seconds left, trailing by one point. While the play design and execution was atrocious (we will get to that next), the fact that Mitchell is already becoming “THE guy” in clutch moments speaks volumes.

I personally can’t wait for that day that Mitchell hits his first game winner at the buzzer. Until then, get on Twitter and vote, Jazz fans!

This kid really is becoming something special and the NBA is starting to take note. A rookie season All-Star nod would be icing on the cake to a more than promising rookie campaign for the Louisville product.

Quin questionable late

Whether warranted or not, there has been an increased number of claims against Quin’s ability. Recent lineup decisions has led this small, yet increasing band of tweeters to question if Snyder is truly the “elite” coach that many have pegged him to be.

I for one, am still in Quin’s corner, however, Utah’s late game problems against the Heat should lie on the shoulders of their head coach.

First of all, with just over six minutes left in the game, Derrick Favors exited the game after colliding knees with a Miami player. Despite Favor’s obvious limp, Snyder elected to have the big man return to the game for the final three-plus minutes. Favors was never able to replicate his solid defensive performance from earlier in the game which proved crucial in a few of the game’s final possessions.

That wasn’t Snyder’s only mistake in the game’s final few minutes.

With just under 20 seconds remaining and the Jazz up one, Snyder elected not to call the team’s final timeout. Rodney Hood then launched up an ill-advised 30-footer that clanked off the right side of the rim. While the shot itself wasn’t terrible, I would have liked to see Quin draw up a play that got Utah a look at the rim.

Snyder’s most uncharacteristic decision came on the game’s final play. As I previously stated, Snyder elected to give his rookie a shot at icing the game with five seconds left and trailing by a score of 102-103.

I feel that the decision to go with Mitchell was the correct choice, however, the ball was inbounded  well behind mid-court. This gave Mitchell very little time to secure the ball and get off a good look.

Snyder is typically very talented at coming up with plays out of timeouts to put his players in positions to succeed. This was not one of his better moments.

Whether or not this ultimately came down to Quin’s play calling or the players’ execution, Snyder simply needed to do a better job tonight for the Jazz to steal a road win.


This tweet just about summed up my thoughts on today’s game…

What’s next?

The 16-24 Jazz continue their road trip on Wednesday night against the 23-17 Washington Wizards. Washington has won seven of their last ten games and have a home record of 13-7.

Utah will have its hands full again if they want to end their current road losing streak and get back on track after a tough December and start to January. The good news is that Jazz will have two full days between their next game to fix some of their mistakes from an otherwise solid game in Miami.

Just one last reminder…

Next: Utah Jazz: Eight potential trade targets (and how realistic they truly are)

Follow me on Twitter @TylerDThorpe for more Jazz insights and analysis.