SALT LAKE CITY — Sometimes the fourth quarter is all that matters. That was the case for the Utah Jazz Monday in their 107-104 loss in Miami.
It didn’t matter that Joe Ingles had 19 points through three quarters, or that Bojan Bogdanovic was right behind him with 17.
It didn’t matter that Rudy Gobert had anchored strong defensive second and third quarters to give the Jazz a five-point lead.
It didn’t matter that Emmanuel Mudiay was playing his second straight impressive game (OK, with how the Jazz bench has played this season that one might have mattered).
What mattered was the 19-4 run that Miami had to start the fourth quarter — and Tyler Herro’s clutch shot-making down the stretch. The Jazz scored just four points in the first six minutes as they watched their lead evaporate, and then the Heat (especially Herro who scored nine points in the fourth) were able to make enough shots to hold off the Jazz late.
The Heat used the big run to take a 10-point lead in the quarter, but the Jazz were able to make a push at the end. In the final 10.3 seconds, Gobert had two put-back dunks on 3-point misses to pull the Jazz within three. But both times, Miami was able to sink two free throws to clinch the win.
Utah fell to 18-12 on the season.
Ingles led the Jazz with 27 points on 9-of-16 shooting, Bogdanovic had 19 points, and Gobert had 18 points and 19 rebounds.
Actually, the game itself — a win or a loss — took a backseat to what happened off the court on Monday.
A half-hour before the game began, the first reports of the trade that will send Dante Exum to Cleveland in exchange for Jordan Clarkson. Then, following the game, it was reported that Jeff Green would be waived to make room for G League standout Rayjon Tucker.
In the middle, the Jazz played one of their better games of the year. Miami is now 22-8 and 13-1 at home. They are one of the best teams in the league and an absolute elite one at home.
The fact the Jazz were in the position they were entering the fourth quarter was a positive sign; and even how they played in that quarter wasn’t terrible. Utah struggled early in the quarter with Heat traps, but for the most part they got open shots that just wouldn’t fall.
Utah was just 9-of-24 in the final 12 minutes.
"Did you see our shots?” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder asked. “I thought we got tired. We got some really good looks."
It wasn’t a surprise the Jazz starters had some heavy legs in the final minutes. Donovan Mitchell played 39 minutes, Ingles played 38, and Rudy Gobert and Royce O’Neale both logged 36. That’s a lot of minutes for athletes playing their third-straight game on the road.
It hurt the shot-making, and it probably played a role on the defensive end, too. Mitchell openly admitted (in more colorful words) that Herro punked him for three straight possessions down the stretch.
“He capitalized on my poor defense,” Mitchell said. “That’s on me.”
There were little mistakes — missed box-outs, missed rotations, poor reads — that ultimately led to the Jazz losing control of the game. But there was a sense that there was something to be gained from this performance, even if they didn’t want to go as far as calling it a moral victory.
“We want to set the bar high,” Snyder said. “We need to play better. When I say better, we have started to play better; we are a team that has improved.”
And they showed it for much of the game on Monday — just not when it mattered most.