Nov 10, 2010, 2:10 AM EDT
It is still one of the greatest basketball highlights out there — Reggie Miller scoring eight points in nine seconds against the Knicks.
Paul Millsap kind of looked like Reggie at the end of regulation in the Jazz’s Monday night’s game against the Heat — a much, much thicker version of Miller, but the unbelievable tying of the game felt the same.
Millsap hit two three pointers — the third and fourth of his career — and tipped in the tying shot as the clock expired to send Monday night’s game into overtime, where eventually the Jazz upset the Heat 16-114.
Millsap’s late game heroics are half the story here, the other half is how the Jazz got back into this one. For once, the Miami offense shouldn’t be the question mark, their defense should.
But first this note: Somewhere Wednesday, in some newspaper or some corner of the Internet, a writer is going to say that three losses in their first eight shows that the Heat have been overrated, that they are not that good. That writer will be wrong. This start may be a disappointment to those who expected 72 wins and a waltz to the title, but what it really is about is the reality of learning to play together and win in the NBA. This league is hard.
The Heat have some flaws, particularly on the inside defensively, that a few teams can exploit. But even most those teams need some luck to make it come together. It will take time to come together in Miami.
The Heat came out early in this one trying to make sure the “lost” Chris Bosh found his way — he had seven of the team’s first 19 points. Meanwhile the Jazz players should have had to join a mason’s union for all the bricks they were laying, shooting 2-18 to start. The Heat were up 21 at the half and they seemed to put on the cruise control. Jerry Sloan teams know not of coasting.
The NBA is all about mismatches — players that can create them and teams that understand how to use them. The Jazz understand. They figure out what works and keep pointing on the sore spot.
In this case, that was Millsap and the fact Bosh could not cover him. What kind of night was it for Millsap? The man now has made four three pointers in his NBA career — and three of them came in the fourth quarter against the Heat. He hit 19 of 28 shots but it was not all right around the rim (he hit 7 of his 8 shots there), it was him going 6 of 13 from the midrange and 6 for 6 from 16 feet and beyond.
What’s more, the Jazz started playing much better defense inside the paint, taking away the easy buckets in the paint — Bosh had just 4 points and 3 rebounds in the second half. The Heat became jump shooters.
LeBron put up a triple double, but let’s not call this a great game from him. He was 1-8 shooting from outside the paint and he settled for that jumper too much.
It took all of that for the Jazz to climb back in this one, and they still needed the highly unlikely Millsap goes Miller just to force overtime.
It’s not going to be easy to beat the Heat, but any intimidation factor, any aura of invincibility is now gone.
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