SALT LAKE CITY — LeBron James once scored 51 points against the Utah Jazz, and needed 50 on Monday night to become the youngest player to reach 20,000 for his career.
He almost got there.
James scored 32 for the Miami Heat, but the Jazz held on after nearly blowing a 21-point lead and won 104-97.
“We’re trying to learn how to push a lead from 20 to 30 and close teams out, but we haven’t been able to do that for whatever reason," said Jazz guard Gordon Hayward, who finished with 22 points on eight-of-13 shooting. “We need to be able to keep our foot on the gas and not be hesitant."
Dwyane Wade, who finished with 11 points on five of 11 shooting, did not get off the bench in the fourth quarter for the Heat.
“I don’t know," Wade said. “I just always stay ready."
Miami pulled within two points on a free throw by Joel Anthony with 3:13 left, but James was called for goaltending and an offensive foul on back-to-back possessions, then missed a 3-pointer with the Heat trailing by six with 2:19 remaining.
His floater in the lane still had Miami within five with 1:25 left, but Hayward hit a 14-foot fadeaway shot with 40 seconds to seal it.
The basket came after yet another offensive rebound by Paul Millsap to give the Jazz a 19-0 edge on second-chance points.
“LeBron still got his numbers, so we didn’t do much to control him. But we took everybody else out of the game and kept them from getting theirs," said Millsap, who finished with 17 points, nine rebounds and two steals.
“They got no second-chance points, so that was big for us. That means we finished the defensive possessions with a rebound and that let us get out and run a little bit. We controlled the tempo."
Al Jefferson also turned in a big game after being held to just six points in a 105-89 loss in Miami on Dec. 22. He had 10 after the first quarter and finished with a team-high 23 on eight-of-14 shooting, with 11 rebounds.
He also made four of four free throws down the stretch.
“The game was too close to be nervous," Jefferson said. “I knew they would make their run, they are too good. But when we were only up two, I didn’t panic. I knew we had them in the penalty, so we just had to be aggressive."
It helped that Hayward got a shot to fall in a quarter that saw Utah make just four of 19 overall.
“They caused some trouble. They’re a good defensive team and we were indecisive and hesitant," Hayward said of the fourth.
Early on, the Heat came out hot, and led 16-8 only to be outscored 37-13 over the next 11 minutes.
The Jazz turned the game with strong play from their reserves, solid defense, hot shooting and second effort. DeMarre Carroll come off the bench to score seven points in four minutes and Jefferson shot five of eight to give the Jazz a 30-25 lead after the first quarter.
Utah opened the second on a 15-4 run to bump its lead to 45-29. The Jazz hit 12 of 15 shots (three of four from beyond the arc) in the quarter (80 percent) and took a 59-44 lead into the break.
Hayward scored 12 points on five-of-six shooting in the second quarter, helping the Jazz stretch their lead to 17. Utah’s bench dominated, outscoring Miami 33-5 in the first half. The Heat shot 50 percent in the opening two quarters, but couldn’t match the 67.6 percent the Jazz were shooting (25 of 37) or their 3-point effort (five of seven).
“It was low energy," James said of falling behind by so many. “Low energy against a team like this on their floor with this amazing crowd, can’t play with low energy."
Also on Monday:
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Reserves Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes each scored 16 points, and the Los Angeles Clippers easily routed Memphis with Chris Paul missing his first game this season because of a bruised right kneecap.
CHICAGO — Carlos Boozer had 20 points and 13 rebounds, Luol Deng scored 18 points and Chicago held Atlanta to a franchise-low 20 points in the first half of a victory over the Hawks.
WASHINGTON — Emeka Okafor had 19 points and 11 rebounds, leading six players in double figures for Washington in a victory over Orlando for its third straight win.
BOSTON — Rajon Rondo scored 17 points with 12 assists and 10 rebounds to lead Boston to victory over Charlotte. It was Rondo’s third triple-double of the season and the 26th of his career, including playoffs.
DALLAS — Darren Collison led six players in double figures with 23 points and Dallas matched its season high with a third straight win in a victory against Minnesota.
PHOENIX — Kevin Durant scored 27 of his 41 points in the second half and Oklahoma City became the NBA’s first 30-game winner of the season with a victory over Phoenix.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — DeMarcus Cousins had 26 points, 14 rebounds and six assists, and Sacramento snapped a four-game losing streak with a win over Cleveland.