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SALT LAKE CITY — The Jazz had a great first half and a big lead in the third, then the lead starting dwindling. Jazz fans on Twitter were scared, this story had happened before, but this time the ending changed.
Cue comparisons to the Clippers twice this season and the Hawks as the Jazz blow double-digit leads, but the Jazz are used to big swings. They have three wins from being 15-points back. The Jazz were able to finally stop the run of the Heat to get their 104-97 win at home.
This is just another game with a big comeback, they have won and lost because of it. Coach Tyrone Corbin knows that and has to plan for big swings in momentum.
"Team's are going to make runs," Corbin said. "You had the luxury to weather the storm because you had the lead, but it gets a little nerve-wracking. Because now, where do you go? How's the team going to see where you can go to stop their runs."
The Jazz were up 15 at half thanks to a 12-minute run from the first to second quarter where they went from down 18-12 to up 52-35. That is basically a 40-17 quarter where the Jazz built a big lead and worked on it for the rest of the game.
"I think we've had stretches before like that," said Gordon Hayward. "When we're sharing the ball and everybody is contributing. I mean it's fun and we can definitely get on a roll. We've got a lot of options. We've discussed before how much talent we have on the team and how much depth we have. When people are hitting shots, and we got everybody rolling, we're pretty good."
DeMarre Carroll, Hayward and Al Jefferson all had big numbers in the first half as the Jazz ended it up 59-44. The lead got even bigger in the third and the Jazz entered the fourth up 84-65, but then LeBron James and the Heat made their push.
"We're trying to learn how to push the lead from 20 to 30 and close teams out," Hayward said. "For whatever reason we haven't been able to do that, but I want to get more chances for sure. Being up by 20 is a good thing. We just got to be able to close it out and like I said we shot ourselves in the foot multiple times with the turnovers and stuff. So we just got to make sure that we to continue to put our foot on the gas and not be hesitant."
The Jazz went 3:17 without a point early in the fourth, only scoring six in the first six minutes while the Heat scored 16 to chop the lead to seven. Then the dumb plays happened, a clear path foul, an offensive foul a few turnover and the lead was down to two.
Then all the thoughts of blowing another lead were no longer abstract, but in the forefront of everyone's mind. The Jazz needed to draw from the lessons they learned from previous failures.
"One of the lessons we talked about is when we get up on guys we want to control the clock and control the tempo of the game to make sure we get a shot and run the clock down," Corbin said. "Instead of, we turn it over they get back and score its a four-point swing. We need to get into our offense."
The Heat can be a great defensive team, they won the title last year because of that. But, the Jazz needed to adjust and Hayward took over to stop the bleeding.
The Jazz were down two and they got into their offense and Hayward hit a runner to push the lead to four. Then Jefferson, the defensive goat in the last Clippers game, took a charge against James and hit two free throws.
Hayward hit another and some free throws to bring his total to 22. Jefferson knocked down a pair of freebies of his own to finish with 23 and the Jazz squeezed one out.
It wasn't pretty, but in the end the Jazz found a way to hold on to a lead, next time they might want to just get up by 30 and coast, but for now a late 11-6 run will have to suffice.