(Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
Earl K. Sneed reports from Salt Lake City and previews Monday night's matchup between the Dallas Mavericks and Utah Jazz as the defending champs go for the season series sweep and eighth straight win against the Jazz overall.
Preview: Mavericks (34-27) at Jazz (31-30)
SALT LAKE CITY — There’s just one way to bounce back from a loss for a fourth time to a team in the same season: come back and claim a fourth win of your own against another opponent.
Just a night after suffering a 112-108 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Lakers to completely a four-game season series sweep, the Dallas Mavericks will attempt to reverse their fortunes against the Utah Jazz. And after three wins over the Jazz (31-30) earlier in the season, the Mavericks (34-27) will try to complete the series and their four-game road trip with an exclamation point as both teams fight for postseason positioning.
“[Sunday] was obviously disappointing,” sixth man Jason Terry explained, “but we’ve gotta get over it quick. We’ve got Utah at Utah.”
Looking for an eighth straight win against the Jazz overall, the Mavs enter EnergySolutions Arena hoping to shake off their defeat in L.A. despite facing a Kobe Bryant-less Lakers team. The defending champs also hope to make things easier on their leading scorer, after 11-time All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki tallied up 24 points and 14 rebounds but finished the game 9-of-28 from the field as the Mavs’ three-game win streak came to an end.
“He had some opportunities that he missed … but, look, we’ve gotta get him some better looks,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle explained. “I mean, 9-for-28 is not a Dirk Nowitzki night.”
“I’ve just gotta make some shots,” Nowitzki added. “I was more of a volume shooter and that’s not how I want to play. I want to be an efficient scorer, so I’ve got some work to do.”
Nowitzki did plenty of work when he finished with a season-high 40 points on 14-of-21 from the field while playing less than 29 minutes of a 102-96 home win over the Jazz on March 3. And with his team looking to finish the season strong, the 7-footer hopes to replicate that performance Monday night.
Meanwhile, despite the loss, the Mavericks continue to sit in the sixth position in the West Conference standings as the playoff race winds to a close. And with the Jazz on the outside looking in, a game and a half behind Houston for the eighth spot, the Mavs could not only better their own standing but also wipe out Utah’s chances of seeing the postseason.
“We need to play well and we need to get wins,” Carlisle said in regard to the playoff picture, “so it’s important from that standpoint. As far as potential playoff things, it’s not really in my sort of focus at this point. But we’re trying to get to where we’re playing good, consistent basketball. We’ve made some strides and we want to keep going in the right direction.”
Note: The Mavericks will conclude their four-game road trip Monday night in Utah, looking to sweep the season series with the Jazz. The Mavs have won all three meetings between the two teams. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 8 p.m. CT.
The Mavs return to the American Airlines Center on April 18 when they play host to the Houston Rockets. The Mavs lead the season series 2-0 and will go for the sweep. That game will air locally on TXA 21 at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS.
Single-game tickets for the first two Mavs home games of the first round of the playoffs are now on sale. Tickets are available online at mavs.com, via phone (214-747-6287 or 1-800-4NBA-TIX) or at the American Airlines Center north box Office. Ticket prices start at $12 and up and there is a four-ticket limit per game.
Dates and times for the first two games have not been announced but will be posted on mavs.com by April 27th.