Defensive effort lifts the Miami Heat past the Utah Jazz, 84-74

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - NOVEMBER 10: Dion Waiters /

The Miami Heat earned another road win, this time over the Utah Jazz on Friday night.

Following the eight-man rotation that led to a win in Phoenix against the Suns, head coach Erik Spoelstra and the Miami Heat followed suit against the Utah Jazz. A nine-player rotation was accompanied by a “W” in the win column, lifting the Heat’s record to an even 6-6.

Spoelstra placed Justise Winslow in the starting lineup for the fourth consecutive night, serving as the squad’s power forward for the second time in a row.

Before the game, Spoelstra commented on Winslow’s assignment at the power forward position, considering he’d face off against the 6-foot-10, 247-pound Derrick Favors.

"“That’s not the first time he’s played against a big player. I’ve started him in a playoff game at center,” Spoelstra said, unfazed by the matchup. “Ultimately this game often comes to who gets to who. If you want to make an excuse, if you want it to come to that, that’s your choice.”"

The Heat paired off well against the Jazz early on; the Hassan Whiteside-Rudy Gobert matchup was quiet offensively, forcing the Jazz to look to rookie Donavan Mitchell and fourth-year man Rodney Hood for scoring. The Heat rested on 18 and 21-point contributions from Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters respectively.

In keeping with the dour narrative thus far, the Heat’s offensive struggles continued. The team managed only 37 points in the first half, on 31.7 percent shooting (13-for-41).

Much of the early trouble stemmed from the lackadaisical offensive effort. Wayne Ellington acted like a spark plug at times, moving well without the ball and scoring his five points off of a catch-and-shoot, and back door cut.

However, Ellington wasn’t the norm, and most of Miami’s offense revolved around a high pick and roll, leaving much of the team on the outside looking in when the two-man game went live. Additionally, the pick and roll also led to a number of spot up jumpers, that extended the Heat’s shooting troubles. The Heat ended the game shooting 39 percent on 30-of-77 on the night.

The start of the second half saw the Heat trim a12-point deficit quickly, as a burst of energy both offensively and defensively from the starters, charged a 11-0 run to start the third quarter.

Counter-balancing the first half’s offensive drought, the Heat held the Jazz to just 33.8 percent from the field for the remainder of the game, including 5-of-21 from beyond-the-arc. Deflections in the passing lane, coupled with limiting the Jazz to just four offensive rebounds, kept Miami in the game down the stretch. Also, limiting the Jazz’s second chance points came from Whiteside’s greedy efforts on the glass, who finished the game with 20 of the Heat’s 48 rebounds.

Despite missing the last game to illness, Tyler Johnson returned to convert his 32 minutes of action into 11 points and a pair of blocks, providing a healthy contribution off the bench.

Tied at 57-points apiece to start the fourth, the Heat and Jazz traded leads until late in the fourth. Waiters and his Philly Cheese Swag flourished again, as a series of 12 of his points and an assist on Josh Richardson’s 3-ball, sealed the deal for the Heat’s second straight win on the road.

Next: Former Miami Heat member Ray Allen fires shots at organization

Miami takes the floor again in Detroit on Sunday, November 12 to round out their six-game road trip.