The Utah Jazz visited the Dallas Mavericks tonight in a rematch of last year's disastrous(for the Jazz) first-round series that ultimately led to the Jazz brass losing faith in the previous team and trading away two of their perennial all-stars. Even though this Jazz team is much different, at times on Wednesday night, it looked like the Jazz were trying to get revenge on the team that caused such a drastic change.
The Mavericks were led by their star Luka Doncic, who scored 33 points tonight. Doncic has not scored less than 30 in all 7 games that the Mavericks have played this season. The Mavericks are a versatile defensive team, and although the Jazz had the lead for most of the game and led by as many as 15 in the third quarter, Dallas had just enough fight in their defense not to let the game get too far out of hand. Once the Mavs started playing zone defense, that proved to be what was needed to slow the Jazz down. Dallas center Christian Wood also contributed 21 points and 10 rebounds off the bench. The key in this game for Dallas was beating Utah for a good portion of the time when Doncic was not on the floor. If the Mavericks can do that, there is a good chance that they will beat anybody they play.
The Jazz gave a valiant effort but couldn’t hold off Doncic and the talented supporting cast he has around him. Lauri Markkanen had a quiet night tonight, with just 14 points and 0 assists. The lack of team assists(28) is probably what made the difference in tonight’s game. Once Dallas switched to zone defense, the Jazz offense really struggled to make shots and move the ball. The Jazz were able to open the second half with a 14-2 run to increase their lead, but the Mavs answered and closed within 4 at the end of the 3rd. The Mavericks seized momentum early in the fourth, and even though the Jazz kept it relatively close throughout, they never recovered after losing the lead that they had held for most of the game.
This game was the first of a three-game road trip for the Jazz. They will travel to Los Angeles for a Friday night tilt against the Lakers. The Mavericks will host the Toronto Raptors on Friday night. 6-3 is still a decent record for the Jazz to have at this point, it’s not going to get any easier to maintain that pace as the season progresses, though. Let’s hope that the fun and good basketball will continue for as long as possible. GO JAZZ!