The Utah Jazz (17-10) handed the Dallas Mavericks (6-20) their 20th loss of the season tonight, off of a Rodney Hood no time-out buzzer beater, 103-100. It was similar to what Howard Eisley did years ago, on a team that would end up going to the NBA Finals. Will history repeat itself for this club? Time will tell. But for now, this is a victory that caps a 4-1 home stand. Utah beat the Phoenix Suns 112-105, lost to the Golden State Warriors (missing four starters) 106-99, beat the Sacramento Kings 104-84, the Oklahoma City Thunder 109-89, and now Dallas.
Sure, it wasn’t the third home win in a row by 20 points. And yes, it almost went to Overtime when it really should not have. But a win is a win. Thank you Rodney!
As for the ups and downs of the game. The first half was predicated on both teams playing slowly, and with zero defensive capability. Both teams were rocking ORTG’s that were above 110. Dallas was making half of their threes, and the Jazz held a very slim 6 point lead. (Would have been higher, and above the halftime points spread, if not for Harris Barnes’ shot. Remember this, for Karma.)
The Jazz got yelled at by Quin Snyder — the shame of having the Mavs (no Dirk Nowitzki, Andrew Bogut, J.J. Barea, and others) hang with you for a half? And responded with some level of defensive capability. Utah won the third 26-19. It looked like things were headed in the right direction going into the fourth.
If this is what you thought then you were wrong. Utah would hit the 100 point mark with 4:22 left in the game off of a Shelvin Mack free throw. They were up by 9 points. Utah would not score again until the last shot of the game by Hood. Yeah, Dallas would tie it up 100-100 with 45 seconds to play, and not just the game but also pride on the line.
Truly it wasn’t the best Jazz game ever. Worse still, against an injured Mavs team that is the worst team in the Western Conference. And even more worse still, a Jazz team that is currently healthier than it’s pretty much ever been this season (missing only George Hill and Alec Burks).
But a win is a win. And an ugly win at home is worth it. You have to defend your home court and the Jazz did so on this home stand. Rudy Gobert had 16 and 10, with a handful of other stats and shot 8/10 from the line. Rodney Hood had 15, 3, 2, 2, and hit two threes — including the game winner. Gordon Hayward finished with 13, 9, and 5, while going 3/6 from downtown. Dante Exum, again in foul trouble, did finish with 11 points and a +12 in 19 minutes against a motivated Deron Williams (who did best him with 18 and 7). A bench mob of Shelvin Mack, Joe Ingles, Joe Johnson, Trey Lyles, and Derrick Favors finished with 44 points off the bench — and each one was needed.
I’m sure this close near-loss is better for the Jazz to stay focused than three blowouts in a row. Don’t get too high, don’t get too low. The Jazz head out on the road for two games next. Facing the also no-longer injured Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday, and then the Golden State Warriors in their gym on Tuesday.