A "signature win'' is Monday’s result: Dallas Mavericks 111, Utah Jazz 103 ... and we've got Mavs Donuts ...
DONUT 1: DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS Two teams from the state posted impressive victories Monday night, dominating the best teams from their respective leagues.
Baylor whipped previously undefeated Gonzaga for the college national championship and the Mavs controlled the NBA-best Jazz from start to finish.
And Dallas did a lot of it with muscle.
“The last two times we played these guys we were the ones who got hit in the mouth and we knew we had to be the ones that were hitting tonight,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “Our level of physical presence was much, much better just all the way across the board. ... They felt us the majority of the game.”
Added Josh Richardson: "We did a good job of just making it a physical game. I think when we’re the aggressors in games, then that gives us a better chance as opposed to when we just kind of let the game flow come to us.”
DONUT 2: STRONG STAND This game at the AAC was decided early in the fourth quarter, when the Jazz appeared to awake from their slumber and become determined to make it a game. Behind Jordan Clarkson’s four-point play and consecutive 3-pointers by Georges Niang, Joe Ingles and Mike Conley, Utah blitzed Dallas with 17 points in the first three minutes.
Amazingly, the Mavs had every answer.
On four consecutive possessions, they made 3-pointers (by Josh Richardson, Jalen Brunson and two by Dorian Finney-Smith). At the end of the flurry, the Jazz had only cut Dallas’ 18-point lead to 15.
DONUT 3: DOMINATING DEFENSE Let’s be honest, the Jazz had “one of those nights.”
Donovan Mitchell missed 17 of his 23 shots, Royce O’Neale was 0 of 8 on 3-pointers and 88-percent free-throw shooter Bojan Bogdanovic missed two of three after being fouled on a 3-pointer.
Still, the Mavs’ drastically improved defense had a lot to do with the Jazz’ subpar performance. Nine times in the last 20 games, they have held their opponent to 12 points or more below their season average including Utah (-14).
“To hold these guys to 103 is a hell of a job,” said Carlisle. “The difference was we just came out and we were much more physical than we were last time we played them. That was a long time ago; that was light years ago.”
Mavs lost back-to-back games in Utah in January by 12 and 19.
DONUT 4: STANDINGS SURGE Don’t look now, but the Mavs are as close to fourth place in the West (three behind the Nuggets) as they are to eighth (three ahead of the Grizzlies.)
DONUT 5: KP KO Good news is that the Mavs won without Kristaps Porzingis. Bad news is that the sprained right wrist make force him to miss multiple games.
Said Carlisle, “It’s something that he’s been dealing with for a number of weeks.” Read more above.
DONUT 6: DON’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER Or a basketball team by its uniforms. The Mavs won despite playing in their “City Edition” outfits which – don’t get me started – are inexplicably trimmed in gold. And safe to safe Luka Doncic’s fresh haircut worked out OK as well.
DONUT 7: LET’S GO STREAKING In breaking Utah’s league-high nine-game winning streak, the Mavs won their season-high fifth in a row. They are also a season-best seven games over .500.
DONUT 8: MUCH BALLYHOOED The Mavs haven’t lost since the network previously known as Fox Sports Southwest rebranded as Bally Sports, going 4-0 in beating the Celtics, Knicks, Wizards and Jazz. Can we move the NBA Playoffs to regional cable only?
DONUT 9: DFS FOR POG It was Luka that won Western Conference Player of the Week (joining Dirk Nowitzki and Josh Howard as the only Mavs to turn the trick twice in the same season), that put up his typically terrific 31 points, nine rebounds and eight assists and that buried the game with a step-back 3-pointer in O’Neale’s mug that pushed the lead to 111-96.
But this game belonged to Finney-Smith.
Not only did he score a season-high 23 points (including five triples), he helped defensively hound Mitchell into one of his worst shooting nights of the season.
“The key moment was, for me, the whole game,” said Doncic. “The way we played defense, that was the key to the game. I think we played amazing defense today. On a team like Utah, which is very difficult to do, I think that was the key.”
Carlisle added that a newcomer won the Belt.
“The defensive belt tonight went to Nico Melli,'' Rick said. "His on- and off-defensive numbers were by far the best on the team. He was part of our improved physical disposition at the start of the game.”
DONUT 10: SUPERB SYMMETRY When the Texas Rangers made the final out of their home-opening loss in Arlington, the Mavs were down 2-0. And there was just a smidge of overlap from the end of the Mavs’ win and the tip of Baylor-Gonzaga, making it a perfectly entertaining (mostly satisfying) eight hours of sports spectating.
DONUT 11: THREES, PLEASE We can break down analytics and matchups and this and that and … or we can just deduct simply, “The team that makes almost twice as many 3-pointers has an extremely high win probability.”
Mavs made 23; Jazz 12.
DONUT 12: THE FINAL WORD You wanted a signature win, you got it. Dominating the league’s best – without their second-best player – should serve the rest of the NBA with the notice that when the Mavs are good, they are as good anyone.