Derrick Jones Jr. knows there is some debate over whether he dunked on two-time reigning defensive player of the year Rudy Gobert, and his stance on the matter could not be clearer.
“It was a dunk,” Jones insisted.
Gobert may have thought otherwise. Doesn’t matter. The numbers on the scoreboard were absolute.
Jimmy Butler scored 20 points, Bam Adebayo scored 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds and the Miami Heat survived a huge night from Gobert to beat the Utah Jazz 107-104 on Monday night — improving the NBA’s best home record to 13-1.
“We found a way just to grit it out and a different way to win,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Against a team like that, that’s a heck of a win.”
The Heat were down by seven late in the third, then went on a 21-4 run to take a 10-point lead early in the fourth — and stayed ahead the rest of the way. Tyler Herro scored nine of his 17 points in the fourth for Miami.
“I'll take the blame for that. It's on me,” said Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, who shot 5 for 18 and finished with 13 points. “He kicked my (butt) on three straight possessions.”
Goran Dragic scored 15 for Miami, which outrebounded the Jazz 55-46 and ended Utah’s season-best five-game winning streak.
Joe Ingles scored a season-high 27 for Utah, which got within three points with about six seconds left on a putback slam by Gobert. But Butler hit a pair of free throws for Miami moments later, sealing the outcome.
“I thought we got tired," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “We had some really good looks. And then not getting stops doesn't give you an opportunity to score off your defense."
Bojan Bogdanovic scored 19 for Utah. Gobert had a huge night — 18 points on 9 for 11 shooting, a season-high 20 rebounds and five blocks.
“He's super-smart," Spoelstra said.
Heat fans were standing at the end. They had another highlight worth remembering in the second quarter — when one of the game’s best dunkers took on the two-time defensive player of the year.
Jones went into the lane, took off about five feet from the basket and scored over Gobert. It was officially recorded as a dunk, and Jones said he made contact with the rim on his follow-through.
Jones headed to the other end, hands on either side of his head in disbelief of what he had done. Twitter lit up with the consensus being that Gobert had been posterized, and the Heat guard agreed.
“That's for sure," Jones said.
Shortly before the game, the Jazz agreed to trade little-used reserve guard Dante Exum and a pair of future second-round picks to Cleveland for Jordan Clarkson. Exum averaged 2.2 points in 11 appearances this season; he was on the active roster for the game, but his locker was cleaned out not long afterward.