Out-Manned Mavs Use 'Playoff-Brand' Style For Comeback Win Over Jazz
After the decision to rest stars Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, as well as key starter Dorian Finney-Smith, things did not look good for the Dallas Mavericks heading into their Monday matinee matchup against the Utah Jazz.
But then Rick Carlisle's squad took advantage of what the coach calls some "quirky'' circumstances, playing "playoff-style'' basketball in the second half to storm to a 122-114 win.
"Low assist numbers, we were stagnant, uncharacteristic ball-stickiness,'' Carlisle said in framing the first half. "But our brand of basketball in the second half was much more like playoff basketball.''
Things certainly didn't look good for 26 or so minutes of regulation, with the Jazz mounting a 22-lead with 10:18 to go in the third quarter.
As the quarter progressed, however, that lead began to dwindle, and by the time the fourth quarter started, the Mavs found themselves within striking distance of the Jazz, who elected to play multiple rookies on the floor together for much of the half.
Said Carlisle: "They did pull their starters. I'm not going to overlook that as a factor in the game.''
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But in part as a result of Utah calling off its dogs and the Mavs' reserves playing like it matters - because with a slight chance at moving from the No. 7 seed in the West to No. 8, maybe it kinda does - Dallas stormed back into contention in the fourth quarter, retaking the lead for the first time since early in the game with just over eight minutes to go in the game.
Dallas never relinquished control from there, holding off the Jazz and winning by a comfortable eight-point margin, in what was the team's largest comeback since a 23-point comeback win over the Denver Nuggets in February of 2016.
Six Mavs finished in double-figures on Monday, with Tim Haradway Jr.'s 27 points leading the way, while Seth Curry added 22 points. Dallas also got 20 points and nine rebounds from Boban Marjanovic, 18 points from J.J. Barea, 14 points from Trey Burke, as well as 11 points from Maxi Kleber. Carlisle also made sure to mention Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, a late arrival to the bubble who pitched in with "18 minutes, plus-21 and did not take a shot,'' the coach noted, "an amazing energy for us on the defensive end.''
The Mavs will pick things back up in a hurry on the second day of a back-to-back Tuesday night when they take on the always dangerous Portland Trailblazers, who sit at 4-2 in the bubble heading into the matchup. Dallas presently remains in contention for the No. 6 slot.
"I can't speak for everybody, but I definitely do,'' said Hardaway of envisioning a climb. "I see it ... I knew if we were able to get one of these wins, it would help us out."
Dallas is 2-1 against Portland so far this season, wit Damian Lillard averaging 36.3 points over the three games. Lillard is averaging 33 points per game in Orlando. The Mavs plan to return to their full group of players for that one, the seventh of the eight seeding games.
"We control our destiny at this point,'' said Curry, which isn't exactly so. But the Mavs did control the Jazz, even without Luka and KP - and doing so with a "playoff-brand'' of ball is something worth having some control over.