LeBron, Wade and the Miami Heat Continue Defensive Dominance Against Utah Jazz

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LeBron, Wade and the Miami Heat Continue Defensive Dominance Against Utah Jazz
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The reigning NBA champion Miami Heat has hit its defensive stride of late, holding six straight opponents under 100 points.

Saturday night's 105-89 victory over the Utah Jazz was no different.

A Jamaal Tinsley three-pointer cut the Miami lead to 75-68 early in the fourth quarter, but the Jazz would get no closer, falling behind by as many as 23 late in the game.

Miami improved to 13-2 at home and 7-0 in games played on Saturday this season.

LeBron James scored 30 points to go along with nine rebounds and seven assists. It was the 76th time in his brilliant career (including postseason) that he has reached those marks.

Following the win, Heat sideline reporter Jason Jackson asked James what the difference was in renewing the team's defensive identity.

“Communication," James said. "We’re communicating, we're flying around, we're helping each other. If something breaks down, someone is there to protect them. That’s what it’s all about.”

The Heat raced out to an 8-2 advantage only to have Utah respond with a 10-4 run of its own. Miami held a 28-25 lead after a first quarter that saw eight different Heat players score.

Marvin Williams scored 12 of his team-high 16 points in the first quarter for the Jazz.

A seesaw second quarter ended when Udonis Haslem swallowed up Paul Millsap's game-tying attempt and followed that up by hitting a baseline jumper to give Miami the edge going into the break.

Wade gets the lucky bounce for his second buzzer-beating jumper against the Jazz.

 

After a closely contested first half, Miami opened the third quarter on a 22-6 scoring run, pushing the lead to 20 on a LeBron James rebound and put-back with 4:10 left in the third quarter.

However, the Jazz would answer with a 14-4 run to end the period, keyed by Williams and former Butler University standout Gordon Hayward.

While Miami regained the top seed in the Eastern Conference with last night's loss by New York, Utah entered the contest tied with Denver for the eighth playoff seed in the West.

In the end, the Jazz could not overcome 19 turnovers.

Adding injury to insult was Jazz point guard Mo Williams, who sprained his right thumb late in the first half and did not return.

Meanwhile, James continued his stellar play, scoring 21 of his 30 in the decisive second half.

James has now started the season with 24 consecutive 20-point games, matching Jazz legend Karl Malone, who was the last to accomplish the feat back in the 1989-90 season. It was in that season that Malone averaged a career-best 31 points per game and enjoyed a career-high 61 points against Milwaukee in just 33 minutes.

 

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With starting center Chris Bosh out with a cold, Shane Battier made his 14th start of the season and canned four three-pointers, helping him reach double figures for the second straight game. 

Dwyane Wade looked sharp throughout, showcasing his vast array of skills with a very solid all-around game: 21 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. 

James extended another streak as well as he avoided a personal foul for the sixth straight game. Ironically, he was whistled for a technical foul late in the second quarter after arguing a non-call.

Jazz forward Paul Millsap had a quiet game, scoring just 11 points with five rebounds.

The last time Utah was in Miami back on November 9, 2010, Millsap had an out-of-body experience. The big man exploded for 11 points over the final 28.7 seconds of regulation, including three three-pointers. The Jazz would prevail in overtime behind Millsap's career-high 46 points.

Saturday marked the five-year anniversary of Wade's buzzer-beating jumper against the Jazz back in an otherwise forgettable 2007-08 season.

The Heat welcome in Western Conference-leading Oklahoma City in an NBA Finals rematch Christmas Day before playing 14 of its next 21 games away from AmericanAirlines Arena.

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