MIAMI (AP)—By the time most of the always-late-arriving Miami fans found their seats, the outcome was decided.
Dwyane Wade and his Heat teammates saw to that.
With an array of alley-oop dunks, acrobatic layups and positively stingy defense, the Heat built a 27-point lead after one quarter and easily beat the Utah Jazz 121-83 on Tuesday night for their 12th win in 13 games.
The 38-point margin represented the fourth-biggest win in Miami franchise history, the Heat’s biggest win of the season, and Utah’s biggest loss of the year. The Heat won by 29 at Portland on Jan. 8, while the Jazz were beaten by 36 at Sacramento on Nov. 15.
“We just got annihilated,” Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said.
Wade had 19 points in the first quarter and finished with 25—one fewer than the total that the Jazz starters combined to score all night. Alonzo Mourning added a season-high 19 points for the Heat, which got 16 from James Posey, 13 from Shaquille O’Neal, 12 from Gary Payton and 10 more out of Jason Williams.
The Heat had trailed in each of their previous six games at halftime, yet rallied to win five of those. But on Tuesday, the rout was on early.
“We needed it to start the game to know for one, we’ve got it in us,” said Wade, whose first-quarter total represented the biggest one-period burst of his career. “And for two, it was something we needed to do. We worked very hard yesterday on getting the focus to come out early, start out strong and we did it.”
After 8 minutes, the Heat had more alley-oop dunks (four) than the Jazz had baskets of any variety (three).
Jason Williams had assists on three of those slams, including a play where he made a steal, drove downcourt, waited for Wade to reach the hoop and tossed him a perfect pass—prompting Sloan to begin motioning for a timeout even before Wade’s catch and two-handed dunk.
The quarter hadn’t even ended before the sellout crowd—most of whom were long gone by game’s end—began serenading Wade with the “M-V-P” chant. He had a steal and three-point play for a 31-8 lead with 2:44 left, then made a sensational play a couple minutes later to stretch the margin to 38-12.
After a Utah turnover, Wade slowly headed down the left side of the floor, waiting as if to pass the ball to a trailing teammate. None came, so he headed toward the basket, got fouled by Greg Ostertag, twisted his body and converted another three-point play.
“Flash is playing unbelievable,” O’Neal said.
Sloan offered no argument there, after watching Wade go 9-for-13 from the floor, plus add six assists, six rebounds and two blocks in 29 minutes.
“He came in this league as a great player, in my opinion,” Sloan said. “But he obviously gets better.”
Matt Harpring scored 16 of his 20 points in the first half for Utah, while Carlos Boozer added 12. The Jazz were outrebounded 50-29 and shot only 40 percent while letting Miami shoot 57 percent from the floor.
Deron Williams had eight for Utah—the most of any Jazz starter. Combined, those five players were 11-for-37 from the field.
“It’s tough to watch from the bench and see your team get down, because you can’t spot a good team like this 20 points,” Harpring said. “You’re starting the game 20-nothing.”
The Heat led by 27 points after one quarter, 22 at the half and 39 entering the fourth.
Harpring had 14 points in the second quarter for Utah, but the Jazz couldn’t shave the margin below 21 points at any time in that period. Harpring had six points in an 8-0 run to bring Utah within 55-34 with 2:47 left, but O’Neal restored order with a dunk and short jumper in a 90-second span.
Miami was 42-for-48 from the foul line, compared with a 6-for-13 night by Utah.
“We just had a great first quarter,” Heat coach Pat Riley said. “I mean, it was just incredible. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this team play like that.”
Wade’s 19-point quarter was the third-most in Heat history. Mourning has had 21- and 20-point quarters in his Miami career. … Mourning appeared in his 486th Heat game, tying current assistant coach Keith Askins for Miami’s career record. The backup center is 20-for-23 from the field in his last seven games. … Jazz F Andrei Kirilenko knocked down O’Neal—who outweighs him by 100 pounds—and Wade on the same play while dribbling upcourt with 45 seconds left in the half. … Miami is 7-0 on Tuesdays. … Utah missed its first five free throws.