The Utah Jazz defeated the Miami Heat 104-97 on Monday, handing LeBron James and Co. their fifth loss in seven road games.
The Jazz rode the strength of a hot-shooting first half, leading by 17 in the second quarter, then coasting for most of the second half.
Miami made it a game with a strong fourth quarter, getting as close as 93-90, but late-game defense and some huge shots by Gordon Hayward helped salt the game away.
Hayward was sensational from start to finish, coming off the bench to score 22 points on 13 shots in 27 minutes. He was flanked by strong games from Al Jefferson (23 points, 11 rebounds) and Paul Millsap (17 points and nine rebounds) inside.
LeBron James led the Heat with 32 points, four rebounds and six assists, needing only 19 shots to get there. Chris Bosh had 16 points (but only one, sad rebound) in 27 minutes, but Dwyane Wade struggled to the tune of 11 points.
The loss drops Miami to 24-12, half-a-game ahead of the New York Knicks, and ever closer to relinquishing the East's top seed.
Utah, meanwhile, improves to 21-19 and stays just half-a-game behind Portland for the final playoff spot out West.
Player of the Game: C Al Jefferson (UTA)
Jefferson was his usual, bruising self inside, needing just 14 shots to get 23 points. He and partner in crime Paul Millsap gave the woefully undersized Heat trouble from start to finish.
Jefferson's consistency the past few games has been remarkable. Just check out the numbers:
Nearly identical. The Jazz need him to keep up the steady play if they want to survive a remarkably deep Western Conference.
What's Next For the Heat?
Miami finishes up its six-game road trip with games at the Warriors and Lakers. The Heat are just 1-3 thus far, beating the Kings but losing to Indiana, Portland and Utah.
What's Next For the Jazz?
Utah welcomes two of the league's worst, Washington and Cleveland, to EnergySolutions Arena. The Jazz would do well to win both games given their current playoff standing.