Final: Mavs 112, Jazz 105
Box Score | Highlights
Behind the Box Score
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.