The Utah Jazz are one of the most talented up-and-coming teams in the Western Conference. They are young, gifted, and have all the components needed to make a dent in the Western Conference playoff picture. The Dallas Mavericks had that team on the ropes on Friday night, after making a furious comeback from a 15-point deficit at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Thanks to a big-time team mistake at the end of the game however, the Mavs invented a way to lose at the buzzer on a Rodney Hood three, falling to the Jazz 103-100.
Dallas had every chance to phone this thing by the end of the third quarter, but the team locked in and made a very impressive comeback, led by Harrison Barnes. Barnes finished the game with 21 points on 10-22 shooting, with a few clutch shots in the final minutes to help draw the Mavs even with Utah. It was the first game in a bit in which Barnes clearly appeared to be the go-to-guy, and he showed that he could do more than handle that weight on his shoulders.
Deron Williams followed Barnes’ lead, turning in his best performance of the season to date, scoring 18 points and handing out seven assists on 6-11 shooting. ... until.
D-Will was in control of the offense, he was efficient, and he took care of the basketball, as he was responsible for just one turnover in the game. Williams has been inconsistent to say the least so far this season, so it was a welcome sight for Mavs fans to see Williams play a game at this level. ... until.
From a big-picture perspective, the Mavs lost the game because of their lackluster inside play, something which has been a theme since the beginning of last season. Utah, and its young star big-man Rudy Gobert out-rebounded Dallas 41-27, with Gobert grabbing 10 of those boards (to go along with 16 points). The Jazz also outgained the Mavs in the paint, by a whopping 48-28 margin.
The inside deficiencies of this team on both ends of the floor have become their Achilles heal, and it has cost them more than just Friday night’s game.
But despite all the inside problems, and the Jazz shooting a lights out 56.9-percent from the floor, the Mavs still had a chance to win the game in the final 24 seconds… until.
The play was an absolute basketball disaster from both a team and coaching perspective. The Mavs have to be the ones taking the last shot in that situation ... they absolutely have to be. Instead, D-will foolishly let’s the shot go with about seven seconds to go on the clock, allowing Utah an Rodney Hood an opportunity for the win.
According to Rick Carlisle, that’s on him.
"The last sequence was my fault,'' the coach said. "We had a play if they missed. But as soon as we had the last shot opportunity, I should have called timeout to make sure we got the last shot, so that’s my fault. It’s not Deron’s fault.''
However, the guys on the court also deserve some of the blame here as well. They have to get back on defense and guard against the possibility of something like that happening, but instead, they kind of just … relaxed, floating back and allowing Hood to get down the court for the game-winning three. The play rendered an otherwise brilliantly played fourth quarter meaningless, and allowed Utah to escape their home arena with a win.
Said Deron: “As a point guard, I know when to run a play. We started the play too early and couldn’t really check the time because of how the play developed, and I’ve just got to do a better job of controlling the game ... At the end of a game like that, we’ve got to get the shot with as little time as possible, if not the game clock going out. So, that’s my fault.”
The loss drops Dallas to 6-20 on the year, which ties them with the Philadelphia 76ers for the worst record in basketball.
The Mavs will attempt to turn the page after a calamitous loss, when they welcome the Sacramento Kings to town on Sunday afternoon. The last time these two teams met, the Kings whipped Dallas by 31 points at the American Airlines Center, with Boogie Cousins going for 24 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists and three blocked shots.
With no inside relief in sight for the Mavs it’s hard to imagine them finding a way to slow down Cousins, but if they play the way they did for the first 11 minutes and 51 seconds of the fourth quarter on Sunday, as they did on Friday, they’ve got a good shot at coming out of the American Airlines Center with a win.
If not? They may just invent yet another way to lose.