I want to start this off by saying that the Dallas Mavericks had to beat the Utah Jazz, for our sake -- not just theirs. They are one of the few teams that could potentially make life hard for the Golden State Warriors (and their pick that we own), so in order to maximize the assets we have, we need them to keep winning. Such is the case of the inter-related and inter-dependent time of the year where playoff spots and ping pong balls mean more than a win for the sake of a win. So with that said, I'm happy the Jazz lost, again. Why?
Aside from the fact that it was a close game against a collection of former All-Stars, it was a game where we saw new things. New things from players in new roles, and the resulting new data is very encouraging. Sure, Dirk Nowitzki did have a bounce back game (12/14 shooting, made 4/4 from downtown, on his way to 31 points and 8 rebounds) -- but the rest of the team was held mostly in check. If you remove Dirk's hyper efficient German scoring the Mavs were only 30/65, which is holding them to 46% shooting. That's lower than the season average, and shows that -- hey, the defense is getting better.
Anyway, the game was close, with both teams not being able to shake one another. The Mavs were up by 2 points going into the fourth quarter. Utah was in it and close to taking control of the game in the late fourth, while Dirk sat. When he came back the Mavs extended the lead to 10 off of great floor spacing and amazing outside shooting. Tyrone Corbin put Gordon Hayward back in the game with the game already decided -- and the young guys went on a mini-run, and the final score was only 108-101. Losing by 7 points at home is never, normally, good. But against a playoff team in the Western Conference that has so many veterans and former star players on it ... it's not that bad.
- Trey Burke scored 20 points to go along with his 6 assists (0 turn overs), and 1 rebound. He didn't shoot that well (20 points off of 18 shots), but it's nice to see him hit 20. He had 23 in the last game, against the Atlanta Hawks. Previous to that, he didn't hit 20 points for 9 games. He's not a pass-first point guard, and he's not the guy being asked to create. So on offense he needs to be that kid who knocks down open jumpers. He's doing that now.
- Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors played with one another, and it was good. Kanter finished with 18 and 11, with 1 block, and he was cooking with 5 offensive rebounds, and he shot 8/13. He was nailing jumpers and playing like a kid with confidence. Favors only finished with 15 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 block. He did score 15 points off of 8 shots. Bigger than the numbers were their affect on one another. They look for each other. They have each others' back. They want to play with one another. And the data to suggest it's not crazy if from a larger sample size than just 65 games this year.
- Alec Burks finished with 13 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals. He did shoot only 4/12 and missed a key three pointer in the fourth. Had he made that the Jazz would have had the lead late in the 4th quarter. He missed.
- (Hon mention: Richard Jefferson who was going nuts in the fourth quarter, in both good and bad ways)
- Dirk got another win against the Jazz
- Gordon Hayward had yet another triple couple (8 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists), and went 1/5 from downtown. As bad as he was (relatively), he did much better than Marvin Williams who finished with 2 points, 1 rebound, and 1 steal as the starter
- Three point taking (not making) was bad tonight. Jazz went 5 / 26 from outside, making only 19.2%. Not going to get it done against the Mavs who went 13 / 21 (61.9%). That's pretty much the game there as when Dirk came in for that last, definitive, Dallas run it was because they were making their bombs, and we could not.
The Jazz play on Friday against the Los Angeles Clippers at home. The Clippers are playing tonight against the Warriors, and at the time of this writing, down at home to them by 4. Damn, I hate Golden State.