(Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
Earl K. Sneed reports from Salt Lake City and recaps the Dallas Mavericks' triple-overtime thriller as the defending champs fell for the first time in four matchups against the Utah Jazz to finish their road trip at 2-2.
Recap: Mavericks 121 at Jazz 123 F/3OT
SALT LAKE CITY — There was a lone bright spot for the Dallas Mavericks coming out of Sunday’s matinee 112-108 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Thanks to the early tipoff, the Mavericks arrived in Salt Lake City with plenty of time to rest up for their matchup on Monday night against the Utah Jazz. And before hitting the hardwood looking for an eighth straight win over the Jazz and four-game season series sweep, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle talked about the extra hours of rest as the defending champions brought to an end their four-game road trip.
Meanwhile, with both teams fighting for their playoff lives, the Mavericks looked to remain in sole possession of the sixth position in the Western Conference postseason picture, facing a Utah team on the outside looking in.
But even with the added rest the Mavericks (34-28) would find themselves in a dogfight against the hungry Jazz team after dropping the previous three games this season. And after the two teams battled for three overtimes, the Mavs fell to a 123-121 defeat.
“That’s part of the game. It’s coming down to crunch time and teams are playing to win,” new addition Delonte West said of the loss. "Everybody wants to be in the playoffs, nobody wants to lose. This season is coming to a close and guys want to make a statement. We played two dangerous teams. We played a team that’s hungry to get to the playoffs and a team that’s trying to hold position. It’s anybody’s game out there.”
“I definitely feel like we’ve had some misfortune in situations where in the past we’ve been the team to come out victorious,” sixth man Jason Terry added. “But we’ve got a lot of fight in us. And if this don’t get you ready for the playoffs, nothing will.”
Using the starting backcourt of West and Jason Kidd, Carlisle and the Mavericks looked to get off to a quick start. But with West in early foul trouble, the coach was forced to check Terry into the lineup while third-year guard Rodrigue Beaubois missed his second straight game with a strained right calf.
Still, despite a thunderous jam by newcomer Vince Carter and leading scorer Dirk Nowitzki’s 3-for-3 start before two fouls himself after a 9-of-28 performance the day before, the Mavericks would have a hard time keeping pace with the Jazz in the opening period. And with ex-Mav Devin Harris knocking down three shots from behind the 3-point arc in the period, the Jazz led 22-18 after one.
With the Mavs’ stagnant offense still sputtering in the second stanza, the Jazz opened up a double-digit lead. But the Mavericks wouldn’t panic after finding themselves down by as much as 11, capping off an 11-1 run on Nowitzki’s spinning score to climb to within one midway through the quarter.
And after West found himself with both a third personal and a technical foul for an incident with Gordon Hayward, the Mavs faced a 43-42 deficit entering the intermission thanks to Terry’s three just before the close of the half.
Staying in the game behind Nowitzki’s 20-point first half on 6-of-9 shooting and 8-for-8 from the foul line, the Mavs managed to outshot the Jazz (32-30) through two quarters, 40.6 percent to 35.1 percent. Meanwhile, the Jazz owned a 24-14 rebounding advantage but totaled 12 turnovers at the midway mark.
After their strong close to the first half, the Mavs would relinquish the momentum to start the third period as the Jazz scored the first seven points. And although Nowitzki continued his relentless assault while Kidd caught fire from long range, the Mavericks entered the fourth down 71-62.
“We weren’t playing particularly well, but guys hung in. … Hung in and was able to put ourselves in a position to keep playing. That was big,” Carlisle explained.
The Mavs then attempted to muster up a comeback. But after Terry was assessed a technical foul for arguing a non-call on a hard fall, the Mavs would struggle to maintain any traction before Jamaal Tinsley connected on a three to give the Jazz a 79-70 margin with 5:38 on the clock.
Still, Nowitzki continued to fire away, singlehandedly keeping the Mavs in the game and powering an 8-2 spurt to climb within three, 83-80, inside the final 3:00 of play. Then it was Terry’s turn for theatrics, draining a three to cut the deficit to two before Kidd’s turnover and subsequent foul on Hayward allowed the Jazz to go up 87-83 with 45.1 seconds left.
The Mavs immediately responded, however, as Carter connected on a corner three with 39.0 seconds before Harris airballed a response, sending the ball back to Dallas down one with 15.7 ticks to win it. That would be plenty of time for a driving Nowitzki to hit Carter in the same corner to go up two on a 3-pointer with just 8.5 seconds remaining.
But the Jazz answered right back, after Hayward’s miss was slammed home by Paul Millsap to tie the game with 2.2 left before Nowitzki’s heave fell short of the rim.
“It’s just beyond me the kind of shots that teams are hitting against us this year,” Carlisle said in disbelief. “We’re playing our [tails] off, but night after night we’ve just gotta hang in. We’ve just gotta hang in and keep guarding, but it’s tough to see.”
“They hit tough shots all night long. That’s happen to us all season,” Terry echoed. “It’s a broken record, but teams are hitting some shots that on a normal day I don’t think those go in. But we just have to keep fighting through it.”
Terry would get the Mavs off to a quick start in the extra period with another shot from behind the arc. But the Mavericks couldn’t separate from the Jazz before Hayward and Harris connected on threes to give the home team a 98-96 edge with 2:05 left.
The Mavs would then briefly lose their composure with Nowitzki earning a technical after Harris’ and-1 floater upped the lead to 100-96 for Utah. But with the Jazz unable to connect on free throws, the Mavs’ pulse kept beating before Millsap’s jumper made it a 103-99 score with 21.5 seconds still to play.
But Terry wasn’t done, scoring a driving and-1 of his own to trim the disadvantage to just one before Hayward’s two free throws with 13.4 still showing. After a timeout, the Mavs went back to their go-to scorers, and after Nowitzki and Terry exchanged passes, Nowitzki calmly pumped and swished in a three from the top of the key to tie the game with 3.9 ticks for the Jazz to respond.
And following a miss by Hayward before Jefferson’s tip attempt bounced off the rim, the two teams headed to a second extra period.
Playing another extra five minutes of action, the two teams remained locked in a stalemate until Ian Mahinmi’s slam gave the Mavs a 111-109 edge with 1:29 left. But Jefferson returned fire once again, tying the game on a jumper with 29.0 left. And after the Mavs inbounded the ball with 5.6 seconds left, leading to a Nowitzki turnover and Millsap miss on a heave from just inside of halfcourt, the teams headed for a third overtime period.
After riding with the lineup of Kidd, Terry, Carter, Nowitzki and Mahinmi for the fourth and first two overtimes, Carlisle inserted West in place of Kidd to start the third extended period. But with Harris’ fifth triple of the night and Jefferson’s baby hook in the lane, the Mavs trailed 120-115 with 1:08 on the clock.
West quickly responded with a three of his own to cut the deficit to two. Millsap’s 1-for-2 at the line then made it a 121-118 score with 14.4 left. And after Nowitzki misfired from the corner on a three before Harris extended the lead with two free throws, West's three just before the buzzer wasn't enough as the game came to a close.
Matching his season-high against the Jazz on March 3, Nowitzki finished with 40 points on 13-of-26 shooting and 12-for-12 at the line to go along with nine rebounds in nearly 53 minutes of action.
“It was a fun game to be a part of,” Nowitzki said. “Both teams left it all out there, competed at a high level — big plays, big shots at both sides of the floor. … So, you couldn’t ask for a better game, and we had our chances.”
He added: “Being in two overtime games back-to-back, four in five nights, I still love how the guys kept coming and wanted to win. Just didn’t have enough left in the tank at the end.”
Terry added 27 points off the bench and Carter pitched in 18 in a reserve role. West and Kidd made it five Mavs in double figures with 16 points and 10 points, respectively.
Jefferson led all five Jazz starters in double figures with a monster 28-point, 26-rebound night.
“I thought Jefferson was phenomenal all night, making big shots everywhere,” Nowitzki said with high praise for the opposition.
The Jazz also finished the night outshooting the Mavs, 43.2 percent to 42.9 percent, in addition to a 53-41 rebounding edge. Utah overcame 15 Dallas points off the Jazz’s 21 turnovers and the Mavs’ 14-of-34 shooting from behind the 3-point arc as well.
“Well, it’s a loss. It’s a disappointing loss,” Carlisle concluded. “We’ve gotta get ready for the next one. There’s not a lot of time to bellyache over it. It was a phenomenal game, the competition was great but we fell short.”
The Mavs will now return to the American Airlines Center to play host to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night. 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.
“Just gotta shake it off,” Terry said of the loss. “Houston is a big game. Back home and we need this win.”
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.