The Utah Jazz cut a 28-point first-half deficit to five points in the fourth quarter but ran out of gas late, losing to the Dallas Mavericks 103-93 on Friday night in Dallas.
A Derrick Favors dunk placed the score at 90-85 with under five minutes to play in the game, but a Jose Calderon three-pointer and a three-point play by Dirk Nowitzki on a soft foul call against Alec Burks sealed the win for the Mavs.
The first half was disastrous for Utah, as the Mavs outscored them 20-6 in the game's first eight minutes. Then the Jazz went over six minutes in the second quarter without a field goal, taking poor shots and turning the ball over.
Marvin Williams, Jeremy Evans and Diante Garrett led the Jazz comeback in the second half, as the Jazz outscored the Mavericks 59-45 in the final two quarters. But it wasn't enough to erase the huge lead.
Monta Ellis led all scorers with 26 points. Marvin Williams, playing in a face mask one day after undergoing nose surgery, scored 19 points off the bench to lead the Jazz.
Utah fell to 1-13 on the season, while the Mavericks improved to 9-4.
- Huge credit to the Jazz, especially the bench, for not giving up on the game. Marvin Williams was extremely impressive, scoring on a good mix of outside shots, flashes to the basket, and physical play. Jeremy Evans, in his second game back from injury, still has not missed from the field (7-7 tonight) and had multiple thrilling alley-oops in addition to showing off his improved mid-range jumper. If the bench can play that well every game, the Jazz will at least be more competitive than they have been recently.
- Point guard play. It is a Thing that Happened. Diante Garrett continues to look like the best distributor and facilitator the Jazz have. He has seven points (including a late three-pointer that he admired after draining like an absolute boss), eight assists, and ZERO turnovers in 16 minutes. Trey Burke didn't shoot well in his 19 minutes, going 2-8 and 0-4 from long range, but he was active and energetic, tallying three assists and five rebounds. John Lucas III? Only 1-3 in 12 minutes...and he was parked on the bench during the Jazz's second-half rally. Which leads me to...
- Ty Corbin. Credit where it's due: He had the guts to stick with the only players that looked like they gave a crap on the floor tonight, rolling with a lineup of Garret, Burks, Marvin, Evans and Kanter during the Jazz's big run. And whatever he said in the locker room at halftime, it must have worked.
- On the other hand, the Jazz had another miserable start to a game. Check this first-half Popcorn Machine game flow (although you may not want to look directly at it, lest your face melt off Indiana Jones-style):
I mean, ye gods. The combination of Lucas, Hayward, Jefferson, Favors and Kanter simply isn't working. Something has to change so the Jazz aren't constantly digging themselves out of early holes.
- Gordon Hayward looks like he's pressing. He just doesn't seem as comfortable as he was earlier in the year, and while he's had a lot of assists lately (five tonight), he's also had too many turnovers (also five tonight). He hit a couple of jumpers early in the third to begin the Jazz run, but he was off the floor for much of it as Marvin, Evans and Garrett closed the gap. I'm sure G-Time feels a lot of pressure as the de facto leader of this Jazz team, but he's had a rough week by any measure.
- Another night, another sound beating on the boards. Dallas outrebounded Utah 41-31, including 13-9 on offensive rebounds, and Samuel Dalembert posted 18 points and 12 rebounds himself, which is pretty much inexcusable. (He averages 7 and 7.) The interior defense has to improve.
Next up for the Jazz: A Sunday road matchup at Oklahoma City (this time with Russell Westbrook back in the fold). We can only hope for the best...and probably expect the worst. But I'm pleased with the fight the team showed tonight. I just wish it hadn't taken a 28-point deficit to spark it.