"Disappointed In Our Focus" | Jazz Struggle To Stay Focused For 48 Minutes In Loss To Dallas

Ryan Kostecka
Digital Content Writer

For 12 minutes, the Jazz were clearly the best team on the court.

Unfortunately, NBA games are for 48 minutes — and it was the final 36 minutes where Utah struggled.

Playing a shorthanded Dallas squad, and despite seven players finishing in double figures, the Jazz let their foot off the gas and struggled to stay focused before falling 124-111 to the Mavericks. 

“Credit to Dallas, they came out ready to play,” head coach Will Hardy said. “This is the first game all season where I've felt disappointed in our focus. There’s always nights where bounces don’t go your way, but I felt collectively we did not have the necessary focus in the little things. … That’s why we lost the game.”

Although it won't go down as one of his best shooting nights of the season, Jordan Clarkson was very good on Wednesday. His ability to break down the Dallas defense and get into the lane was essential as it freed up shooters and allowed the Jazz to attack the glass on offense. 

He finished with 26 points, four rebounds, and two assists, making a living at the free throw line by going 12-of-15. 

The beauty of Clarkson's game was the fact that he never stopped shooting and never stopped attacking. Despite hitting the back of the rim countless times, he remained undeterred, and that sort of aggressiveness helped Utah stay in rhythm as an offense. 

Before tipoff on Monday night, Lauri Markkanen stood at center court with owner Ryan Smith and was honored as a first-time All-Star — and was given a thunderous ovation from Jazz Nation.

He then showed precisely why he will represent the Jazz at the All-Star game in Salt Lake City in a few weeks. 

Despite struggling from beyond the arc, Markkanen was unstoppable elsewhere when he finished with 19 points and seven rebounds. He shot 9-of-16 from the floor, but 8-of-9 from shots inside the three-point line. 

After two days off, the Jazz came out firing to start by hitting three of the first four shots. However, Dallas was up to the task as they led 12-8 early following a four-point play from Tim Hardaway Jr. 

Markkanen and Mike Conley hit back-to-back threes as the Jazz rattled off a 15-4 run, with Clarkson scoring the final six points. They would later extend the lead to 15 following a 7-0 run, but a Jaden Hardy three stopped the bleeding for Dallas. 

Utah led 37-25 after one. 

Just as they did last year in the postseason, the Mavericks were on fire from three-point territory as they rattled off an 11-0 run to start the second. A Markkanen jumper ended the run, but Dallas was just beginning, eventually taking a 44-43 lead following a Hardaway Jr. three. 

Utah gained some separation late in the quarter when, after being tied at 49, went on an 11-3 run. Back-to-back buckets by Clarkson and and-ones by Kelly Olynyk and Conley gave the Jazz momentum heading into the final minutes of the half. 

However, the Mavericks would respond with an 8-0 run to tie the game before Clarkson knocked down a pair of free throws.

The Jazz led 62-60 at the break. 

Much like the second quarter, Dallas came out and blitzed the Jazz to start the third — going on a 13-4 run and prompting a timeout by Hardy. 

Utah would respond, going on a 7-2 run that cut their deficit to four with just under five to go in the quarter. Again, the Mavericks would answer as a Josh Green three gave them a nine-point lead late in the third. 

The Jazz refused to go away as a Beasley three ignited a 9-2 run, giving them some momentum heading to the court. 

Utah trailed 89-85 after three. 

This time it was Utah's turn to make a statement at the beginning of a quarter, opening up the fourth on a 9-3 run after a pretty spin move for a layup by Conley. The lead was short-lived as back-to-back threes by Dallas gave them a 103-98 advantage with just over six to play. 

After Utah had cut the deficit to four following a Walker Kessler and-one, the Jazz couldn't stop getting in their own way as back-to-back turnovers helped ignite a 6-0 Mavericks run. 

Although the Jazz would get a few buckets in the end, they couldn't get the required stops and Dallas cruised to the finish. 

“We let them back into the game from an emotional standpoint in the second quarter,” Hardy said. “They hurt us on the offensive glass, got out in transition, and started feeling good about themselves. Basketball is a very momentum-based game. … There’s clearly an emotional aspect to an NBA game, and I thought they clearly took the momentum.”

Conley finished with a double-double of 10 points and 11 assists, while Kessler added 13 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks. Olynyk chipped in 11 points, six rebounds, and three assists, while Sexton and Rudy Gay came off the bench to drop 10 points each. 

Utah ends its homestand on Wednesday when they welcome back Rudy Gobert and Minnesota. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. MT.