Final: Jazz 97, Mavs 81
Box Score | Highlights
Behind the Box Score
The Mavs scored 1.30 points per possession in a scorching third quarter, the team’s best offensive frame of the season. They did it by playing aggressive, getting downhill, and finishing at the rim. Once you do that, suddenly the shooters find just a bit more space on the outside because the defense gets sucked in. It’s not unlike a football team establishing the run to set up deep play-action passes downfield.
I don’t know what happened midway through the third quarter, whether it was a shift in plate tectonics or the Mavs lowering the 2K difficulty down a level or something, but after falling behind 64-44 with 3:02 left in the third, Dallas absolutely erupted to end that frame, launching a 19-2 run to come to within three points just a minute into the fourth. Whatever it was that sparked the team — whether it was a change in approach or attitude, a particular lineup, or simply just a combination of nice shooting and luck — will hopefully carry into Friday’s game against Portland. This was a low-scoring, difficult game throughout the first half, but it was good to see the Mavericks find a nice rhythm in the second half. Positive momentum can be difficult to establish, but once you’ve done it, it can stick around for a while.
This was Dirk Nowitzki’s first game back after missing two straight with an illness. He struggled at the beginning of the night, rimming out a few 3-pointers, but he eventually settled in. I don’t need to explain how important Dirk is to this team, but suffice it to say the Mavs need him.
You often hear Rick Carlisle talk about the “narrow margins” the Mavs are working with. That means a ton of different things, but you could see some of those events play out tonight. For example, George Hill hit a 40-footer to beat the first-half buzzer. Later, Nowitzki made a 3-pointer that must have been 0.0001 seconds too late, as the shot clock buzzer barely went off before the ball left his hand. That’s a six-point swing right there, and that stuff definitely shows up in the final score. Those are some of the more obvious examples. Others: an untimely technical foul, a missed close-out or box-out, a pass that gets away from you, generating an open jumper only for it to miss, etc. The moral: Each team gets 90-plus possessions in a basketball game, and every single one of them counts.
The Mavs (0-4) play the Portland Trail Blazers (2-2) on Friday at American Airlines Center at 7:30 p.m. Central.