Heat 119, Jazz 110
SALT LAKE CITY (AP)—The Miami Heat are playing well enough that Shaq can take his time recovering from knee surgery. No rush on Riles, either.
The Heat extended their longest winning streak of the season to four games with a 119-110 victory over the Utah Jazz on Saturday, getting within two games of .500 with one game left on a long Western Conference road trip.
“We’re playing with a lot of confidence. We’ve got our so-called swagger back,” said Dwyane Wade, who led the Heat with 32 points and 10 assists.
Wade made 21 of 23 free throws and Miami improved to 4-1 on its six-game trip, which concludes Monday against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Heat are also 4-2 since Ron Rothstein took over as interim coach for Pat Riley.
Riley is out indefinitely while he recovers from hip surgery. Shaquille O’Neal is getting closer to returning at center, although he’s waiting for his left knee to regain its strength before he plays on it again.
And the suddenly surging Heat can wait.
“We’ve done a pretty good job of circling the wagons and covering for one another and now we’re starting to see the results,” Rothstein said.
The game took nearly three hours, as the teams shot a combined 99 free throws. The Heat were far better at the line, going 42-for-45 while giving the Jazz their first three-game losing streak of the season.
Although Utah made a brief threat early in the fourth quarter, Miami controlled the tempo nearly all game.
“It looked to me like they walked the ball up the court every time and they come out of the ballgame with 119 points,” Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. “We had 110 and we ran it up the court as hard as we could.”
The Heat led by 22 in the third quarter and let Utah get within seven early in the fourth before Miami regrouped and led comfortably the rest of the way.
“We’re making shots. We’re getting good shots,” Rothstein said. “We’re starting to develop a real confidence in what we can do and that goes a long way.”
The Heat only faltered once and quickly corrected it after Utah cut a 22-point margin to single digits early in the fourth quarter.
The Jazz trailed 97-84 at the end of the third, then opened the fourth with an 8-2 run.
Boozer made back-to-back jumpers to cut the lead to 99-92 and the Heat called time. Miami regrouped during the stoppage and scored the next 10 points. Wade started it with two free throws, Udonis Haslem added two more from the line and Kapono made two 3-pointers to put the Heat back in command.
During the run, the Heat got a scare with about 8 minutes left when Wade took a shoulder to the face from Harpring as Harpring was running past him. Wade dropped to the floor and stayed there for a few minutes as the Heat called time.
After toweling his face off, Wade went right back out there and got a small cheer from the Utah fans.
The only time they cheered again was when Sloan got a late technical when Wade went to the line—again.
Alonzo Mourning added 13 points for the Heat. … Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur scored 11 apiece for the Jazz. … The Heat beat the Jazz for the sixth straight time. … Wade made all 10 of his free throws in the first quarter, while the Jazz were just 2-for-7 from the line. … Miami’s 64 points were the most Utah allowed in the first half this season.