Final: Jazz 104, Mavs 89
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Behind the Box Score
Devin Harris was the only Maverick who attempted a free throw in the first half. He made each of his four free throws. The Mavs were actually top-half in the NBA in free throw attempt rate heading into this one, meaning they’re middle-of-the-pack in terms of volume of free throw attempts relative to the number of field goal attempts they take. That’s a big improvement over last season, when the club ranked 29th in free throw rate. Harrison Barnes in particular has made it a point to attack more often. Let’s hope that remains the case as the season wears on.
This one was a tale of two halves. The Mavs won the first one fairly decisively, but the Jazz followed suit in the second. Despite the Mavs, record, there’s plenty of good tape out there of the defense coming up with stops and the offense filling it up. Right now it’s just a problem of consistency — how can Dallas keep the ball flying around on offense while avoiding stray passes, and how can the Mavericks get enough stops on the defensive end while typically playing smallish lineups? Winning is a very delicate thing no matter how much talent you have on your team, and Rick Carlisle often talks about the razor-thin margins in this league. The final score of this one wasn’t really reflective of how close the game actually was for most of it, and tonight was another example. Dallas just committed too many giveaways; cut them by 33 percent and it’s a much, much different game. The good news is it’s still early in the season, so there are a lot of games left to figure it out. The bad news is the West is loaded, so the clock is ticking.
The Mavericks got off to a hot start in the first half, hitting seven of their first nine 3-point attempts and shooting above 50 percent from the field for most of the half. Dallas scored 1.18 points per possession in the first two quarters, with turnovers the only bugaboo — a big problem all night, unfortunately. J.J. Barea and Devin Harris were the main factors; Harris was +19 in 14 first-half minutes. That’s now a few games in a row where the backup guards have come in and made a tangible, positive impact on the game.
Dennis Smith Jr. was listed as questionable for the game with left knee effusion, but he did earn the start. That might be something that could spring up now and again, but it’s definitely a good thing that it didn’t prevent him from playing tonight. Meanwhile, Rick Carlisle said Seth Curry has begun live activity, but there’s no timetable for his return. The good news is he traveled with the team on this road trip. It appears his return is inching closer, which is good news for a club that always wants more ball-handlers and 3-point shooting.
The Mavs (1-7) will play the Los Angeles Clippers (4-1) on Wednesday at Staples Center at 9:30 p.m. Central.
Final: Mavs 112, Jazz 105
Box Score | Highlights
Behind the Box Score
Mavs vs. Jazz
View photos of the Mavs’ 112-105 OT win over the Jazz.
After allowing 1.550 points per possession in the second quarter, the Mavs defense awoke in the third, forcing seven Jazz turnovers in the third, holding Utah to just a single point per possession. That kick-started the comeback. Live-ball turnovers are the best way to create easy offense the other way because they generate transition opportunities, and against a team with Rudy Gobert as its defensive anchor, the more easy shots you can create, the better.
Justin Anderson finished a team-best +16. Dorian Finney-Smith was +13. Those two guys helped the Mavs change the feel of the game in the second half. More on Anderson in particular later.
Comebacks are fun. The Mavericks trailed by as many as 21 points in this game. It’s three straight games they’ve been down by at least 16 points. Obviously the goal is to avoid falling behind like that as much as possible, but Dallas has played spirited basketball after falling behind in all three games, culminating in tonight’s result. Tonight’s comeback was defined by hustle plays, simply playing with an incredible amount of desire. From dives on the floor to Devin Harris’ steal at the end of regulation, the Mavericks left it all out on the court. No matter the result, this last month or so of hoops beats the heck out of tanking. This team works hard every night and that’s something we can all root for, no matter what kind of draft pick or playoff seed you could ever want. The Mavs were in a position to win Tuesday against Portland, too, so it was good to see them able to pull this one out after a tough loss the other night.
Seth Curry developed in front of our eyes tonight. Early in the game — and even up until one pivotal possession late in the fourth quarter — he’d been reluctant to shoot against Rudy Gobert. But on a play with the Mavs down 96-91, Curry drove and hesitated to shoot against the defensive menace, but realized he had the room to. So he patiently drove back out, gathered himself, and quickly drove again, drawing and finishing through the contact. He then did the same exact thing the next possession only without the foul, tying the game at 96. That’s what development looks like: Curry realized he had an advantage, and then gained the confidence to do what he needed to do and take care of business. After a relatively quiet beginning to the game, Curry came through when it mattered late.
Leave it to the young guys to create energy and positive momentum out of nothing. Justin Anderson checked in with the Mavs down 21 points and immediately changed the game with his activity on both ends of the floor. He drew a charge to halt a fast break at one end, but his biggest play came on offense. After Dorian Finney-Smith missed both free throws during a trip to the line, Anderson stuffed home a put-back dunk. On the ensuing inbound pass, Yogi Ferrell stole the ball and drew a shooting foul, making both shots from the charity stripe. The Mavs during two missed free throws into four points. This hasn’t been the season Anderson might have hoped for so far in terms of playing time, but he was an extremely positive piece of the rotation tonight, and that could earn him increased minutes moving forward. That kind of play goes a long way.
Utah is one of the best defensive teams in the league, but no starter was a particularly good defensive matchup for Harrison Barnes. The 24-year-old a rare combination of strength and quickness, which makes him a tough task for both power forwards, who are usually too slow, and small forwards, who are usually easily out-muscled. That was evident throughout the game tonight and on Tuesday against Portland, especially against big 4s like Derrick Favors and Noah Vonleh, around whom Barnes drove early and often. Only three of his 12 baskets came from outside the paint tonight. He was so aggressive all night long, perhaps more so than in any other game he’s played as a Maverick. He finished with 31 points, tied for the second-most in a game in his career.
The Mavs (21-32) play the Orlando Magic (20-34) on Saturday at American Airlines Center at 8 p.m. Central.
Final: Jazz 103, Mavs 100
Box Score | Highlights
Behind the Box Score
Mavs vs. Jazz
View photos of the Mavs’ game against the Jazz.
The first half was a pretty dazzling display of shot-making, with Utah scoring 1.49 points per possession to the Mavs’ 1.32. The score at the break was 64-58, which is incredibly high given the low number of possessions the teams played in the first half (only 43). The offenses were the aggressors in the early going, to be sure.
The Mavs fought, scratched, and clawed their way back into this thing, tying the game with under a minute left after trailing by as many as 15 points. But after Deron Williams missed a go-ahead 3-pointer, Utah grabbed the board and sped the other way, and Rodney Hood drained a trey of his own with 0.8 seconds left. Tough result for the Mavs, but they did everything they could to get back into it.
Deron Williams has been critical of his own shooting lately, but tonight he shot the ball very well, finishing with 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting. He also added seven assists. The Utah boo-birds still occasionally let him hear it, but that didn’t seem to bother him tonight. Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews have been putting up pretty big scoring numbers in recent weeks, so if Williams can consistently join them in that regard, that will give the Mavs’ offense a big boost. Unfortunately, however, he came up limping after drawing a foul in the fourth quarter, appearing to favor his right leg.
For the second straight game, the Mavericks finished the first half with fewer than 10 rebounds. Dallas pulled down just nine in the opening act against Detroit on Wednesday, while tonight the club managed eight, with only five of them coming on the defensive end. To be fair, the Jazz missed just 13 shots overall in the first half as they shot a whopping 64.9 percent from the field, but those problems are directly related. Utah scored 34 points in the paint in the first half alone on 17-of-22 shooting, meaning the playmakers were able to break down the Mavs’ perimeter defense and get into the teeth of the unit, which can really compromise a team’s defensive rebounding. This goes double right now for Dallas, currently without one of the league’s best defensive rebounders in Andrew Bogut. This is also two games in a row when the opponent has had a monstrous offensive rebounder (Andre Drummond and Rudy Gobert, respectively). Harrison Barnes has said the Mavs need to make a team-wide commitment to rebounding as a five-man unit rather than relying too much on the centers. Dallas will need to make the proper adjustments in time for Sunday’s battle with the DeMarcus Cousins-led Kings.
When injuries hit, everyone on the depth chart moves up a spot. And when the remaining players get in foul trouble, everyone moves up one more spot. A.J. Hammons got in the game with 10 minutes left in the third quarter tonight as Salah Mejri battled foul trouble. The rookie has played sparingly in his first season in Dallas, but he made an impact in his limited minutes tonight, hitting a pick-and-pop 3-pointer from the top of the arc and pulling down a rebound against Gobert in three minutes. He also picked up three fouls in that time, which is obviously something the coaching staff doesn’t want to see, but that’s to be expected from a rookie big man. The more Hammons plays, the easier it should become to avoid those mistakes. And if he can keep hitting shots, he might just get more minutes soon.
The Mavs (6-20) play the Sacramento Kings (9-16) on Sunday at American Airlines Center at 3 p.m. Central.