NBA: Giant killers Heat cool off red-hot Jazz, Celtics snap losing streak
LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Jimmy Butler scored a season-high 33 points as the Miami Heat beat the National Basketball Association-leading Utah Jazz 124-116 on Friday (Feb 26) to extend their winning streak to five games.
Butler also added 10 rebounds and eight assists to lead giant-killers Miami, who have toppled the NBA’s two most recent champions in the past week – the Toronto Raptors and the defending champions Los Angeles Lakers.
“I don’t want to say that we’re good yet,” Butler said.
“We’ve got so much more that we can be better at. Myself, anybody, I don’t want us to get complacent and think that we’re cool.”
Goran Dragic scored 26 points, centre Bam Adebayo had 19 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists in the win.
“We just tried to take away their easy shots,” Dragic said. “And we did.”
Donovan Mitchell shot 11-of-26 from the field and finished with 30 points for the Jazz, who dropped to 26-7 overall but still have the best record in the NBA.
The Jazz also got 17 points from Bojan Bogdanovic as well as 15 points and 12 rebounds from Rudy Gobert.
They missed their last seven shots and were three-for-16 from the floor in the final eight minutes.
“We just made a lot of mistakes, had too many breakdowns on both ends,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said.
Utah beat Miami 112-94 in Utah earlier this month in the only previous meeting between the teams this season.
In Tampa, Kyle Lowry recorded a triple double as the Toronto Raptors beat the Houston Rockets 122-111 despite missing six members of their coaching staff, including head coach Nick Nurse.
The Raptors announced just prior to the game that the six would be unavailable for the NBA contest because of Covid-19 health and safety protocols.
Toronto forward Pascal Siakam also sat out the game due to the same protocols.
The 53-year-old Nurse, who is the reigning league coach of the year, is in his third season as Toronto’s head coach.
Assistant coach Sergio Scariolo took charge of the Raptors bench against the Rockets.
The Raptors led by eight points at the half, had a 23-point lead at one stage in the third and took a 15-point lead into the final quarter.
Lowry finished with 20 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists to post his 16th career triple-double as a Raptor.
Victor Oladipo had 27 points and John Wall had 21 points and 12 assists for the Rockets, who lost their 10th straight game.
Eric Gordon had 17 points and P.J. Tucker and Danuel House each scored 11 points.
Elsewhere, Kemba Walker scored a season-high 32 points as the Boston Celtics recovered from a slow start to defeat the Indiana Pacers 118-112.
Daniel Theis had 17 points and Jaylen Brown 15 as the Celtics snapped a three-game losing streak, winning for just the fourth time in their last 12 games.
“We had a slow start, but we stuck together. That was the best part about it. The only way you can get out of struggles is by doing it together,” said Walker.
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