Mavs Donuts: StreakBusters Strike Again!

The two hottest teams in the NBA faced off in Utah as both the Jazz and Mavs entered the game riding seven-game winning streaks. Once again, it was the "StreakBusters" ignoring a team's recent surge and crushing their will … and their streak. Time to make the Saturday Morning Mavs Donuts!

DONUT 1: Fueled by their defense, Dallas pulled away in the third quarter, dominated the fourth and defeated the Jazz 93-81 for their eighth consecutive win in a game not as close as the score would have you believe.

Coming into the night, this was a battle between two of the league's best defenses. In points allowed, the Mavs ranked third (92.2) while the Jazz were eighth (96.9).

Utah led the league in opponent's field-goal percentage (42.5-percent) and stood as the lone team in front of Dallas (43-percent) in this category.

Both were tied for the league lead in fourth quarter points allowed at 21.9 … though Utah also led the league in margin of victory for the fourth quarter, outscoring opponents by an average of 5.1 points.

The Mavs ranked eighth in this category, outscoring opponents by 0.8 in the fourth quarter.

For one team, those stats held strong.

DONUT 2: Dallas held the Jazz to 39.2-percent shooting for the game, including 35.3-percent in the second half … and outscored the Jazz 27-to-19 in the fourth.

Meanwhile, the Mavs shot 52.7 percent … including 60 percent in the second half, and 12-of-18 in the fourth quarter (66.7 percent).

Dallas also began the fourth by scoring the first 11 points of the quarter on their way to a 17-to-4 run, essentially putting the game away.

If you weren't a believer in the defense entering Friday night, you must be now.

It must be sustained, but the start is undeniable. This defense and this team may be the best in the league right now.

Just as we all thought … right?

DONUT 3: Above, we indicated that the score wasn't as close as it appears. For further evidence of this, consider that Jason Kidd, Tyson Chandler and Caron Butler did not play in the final quarter.

Why?

A big part of the answer comes from the play of JJ Barea and Brendan Haywood (not to mention Jason Terry).

Though Barea only totaled four points and two assists in the fourth quarter, his relentless attacks on the paint fed the offense and kept the Jazz on their heels. Barea finished with eight points and four assists against only one turnover.

Haywood scored three points and grabbed five rebounds in the final quarter. His defense on Al Jefferson, and inside presence was a key factor. Big Wood's impact is not reflected in his final stats (four points, six rebounds and two blocks), but is evidenced in the final score.

No play better illustrates the effectiveness of the pair than a play with just over five minutes remaining in the game.

Barea slashed his way through the perimeter defense, slowed and tossed a left-handed soft lob in Haywood's direction. Big Wood plucked the ball from the air and slammed it home to convert the perfectly orchestrated alley-oop … and put the Mavs up 17 (85-68).

DONUT 4: Want more reasons why the bench was able to carry the fourth quarter and allow Carlisle to give some valued rest to Butler, Chandler and Kidd?

Through three quarters the Mavs bench was shooting 6-of-21 (28.6 percent).

In the fourth … they went 9-of-13 (69.2 percent) from the floor and put away one of the league's better teams … ignoring the reputation of their previously daunting defense.

DONUT 5: Caron Butler continued his strong play of late. (It might be time to bust out those "Tuff Juice'' t-shirts, Fish!) He wasn't needed in the fourth quarter, but did manage to score an efficient 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting (his fourth consecutive game to shoot 50 percent or higher), and did so entirely within the flow of the offense during his 29 minutes … there was also the three rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block.

DONUT 6: Utah dominated the glass in the first half as they took a four-point lead into the intermission, out-rebounding Dallas 25-to-15 … including seven offensive boards to zero for Dallas.

However, in the second half the Mavs bounced back and took 20 boards to Utah's 18.

Again, even if the stats don't paint an accurate picture, Haywood deserves a lot of the credit for this.

DONUT 7: This wasn't one that will go on Tyson Chandler's personal highlight reel. Just over three minutes into the game he picked up his second foul and never quite got out from under the thumb of those foul troubles … and got called for a technical after displaying his unhappiness with the whistle for his fourth foul when the game was still close in the third.

Chandler played only 17 minutes, but still managed to take eight rebounds, dish two assists and score two points

DONUT 8: Dallas is now 8-2 against the league's top 11 teams, and has managed to keep 10 teams to at least ten points below their season scoring average.

At 102 points-per-game, Utah came in ranking eighth in the NBA … Dallas kept them to 81 … or 21 below their average … in Utah.

Come on … you have to be impressed.

DONUT 9: Jason Terry may have only had 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting, including going 0-of-6 behind the 3-point line, and gave away three turnovers (one of which helped Utah close the first half on a 5-0 spurt) …but you'd be mistaken if you labeled this game a failure for him.

In the fourth quarter, Terry took three of his five total steals, and acted as a key contributor to some extremely high quality team defense to close things out.

He also had five assists and led the Mavs for the game in plus/minus with a +16.

Another sign of this TEAM's effectiveness … three players tied for second in the plus/minus stats at +13: Dirk Nowitzki, Brendan Haywood and Shawn Marion.

DONUT 10: Have we mentioned that Dirk continued to play at an MVP level? He did.

As the only player to see the court for over 30 minutes of action (we're beginning to see more signs of the depth so discussed prior to the season), Dirk led all scorers with 26 points with incredible efficiency, shooting 12-of-18 from the floor.

The UberMan also added six rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block.

On the short list of current MVP candidates, Dirk has to be mentioned.

DONUT 11: The "Streak Busters."

Smile

If you're a team enjoying a winning streak, there's one team you don't want to call: The Dallas Mavericks.

Friday's win marks the fifth streak of five wins or more that Dallas has abruptly halted.

It began with Boston: 5-game winning streak … snapped.

New Orleans Hornets: undefeated at 8-0, not undefeated anymore.

Welcome OKC Thunder: 5 games in a row and no more.

Enter the Spurs: 12 consecutive victories, then a loss.

Finally, the Utah Jazz: A streak of 7 wins, busted.

Oh, and here's the NBA.com video recap:

DONUT 12: I wrote this before the game: "Just thinking out loud, but Marion often earns minutes over Caron Butler in the fourth quarter due to his defense. By that line of thought, why does DeShawn Stevenson never earn minutes over Jason Terry?

Not suggesting that this should become the norm, only wondering aloud why we never see it."

Did Jason Terry hear me? Did I offend him?

If so, can I take credit for his fourth quarter defensive performance?

You're welcome.

Smile

DONUT 13: Our man Mike Fisher is back on the "Mavericks Live'' pregame show tonight on FS Southwest for the telecast that begins at 8:30 … and Fish is on the ESPN Radio postgame show on 103.3 ESPN late into the night … so DallasBasketball.com has your Mavs covered in every direction!


Visit the DB.com Store: DB.com Night at the Mavs on Dec. 28, two tickets and a T-shirt for $22!


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