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"We Haven't Hit A Stride Yet" | Utah's Impressive Comeback Falls Short In Dallas

Ryan Kostecka
Digital Content Writer

Refusing to make excuses and on weary legs, Utah traveled to face Luka Doncic and Dallas on Monday night in a game with massive playoff implications.

For three quarters, the Jazz looked like a team playing at the end of a five-game road trip — including Sunday night. But never entirely out of it, Utah staged a fourth quarter comeback before coming up short in a 111-103 loss to the Mavericks.

"The story of this game is us being down 20 on the road and getting to within a few possessions," head coach Quin Snyder said postgame. "We haven't quite got to the point we want yet. … This game is a good example of showing some things we can do."

In what could've been a playoff preview, it's unfortunate for Utah that this game at the end of the road trip due to the postseason implications between these two teams. Utah entered Monday as the No. 4 seed with Dallas hot on their heels at No. 5 — and while those remain the standings after the game, Utah's lead is now at a half-game.

"I don't think we've played as well as we can," Snyder said. "We've had some good games and played some good stretches. … We haven't hit a stride yet. I think games like this are opportunities for us to see that and continue to grind."

One day after setting a franchise record with 11 three-pointers in a game, Bojan Bogdanovic continued his stellar play with a team-high 21 points and four rebounds. He was efficient again, shooting 7-for-11 from the field and 4-of-8 from beyond the arc.

A definite positive the Jazz can take away from this game is how Bogdanovic got his points.

More than just a three-point shooter, he showed his proficiency down on the block when matched up against a smaller defender. Bogdanovic had no issue asserting his will using his height and strength — an element in his game that will make the Jazz even more diverse on offense.

There was no doubting the passion of this game as it was heated from the opening tip and stayed that way until the final buzzer — and even after the buzzer sometimes.

Rudy Gobert and Doncic appeared to be the biggest catalysts sparking this evolving rivalry, with both receiving technicals. Gobert received his early in the first quarter while Doncic, in direct retaliation of Gobert, was assessed his technical at the end of the first half.

Following a possession late in the second quarter in which Gobert forced Doncic into a miss, Doncic complained to the official about not receiving a foul — something he did multiple times throughout the game. It looked like words were then exchanged between the two, with Doncic throwing the ball at Gobert. Royce O'Neale caught the ball, resulting in players from both teams being separated before heading to their respective locker rooms.

"It's emotions, it's basketball. …. There were a lot of things said that wouldn't be said outside of a basketball court," Gobert said of his battle with Doncic. "We play with emotion. … There were a lot of words. You have to ask yourself, 'Do you want to be there for your team, or do you want to stand up for yourself?' I usually choose the first option."

Despite playing Sunday night in Oklahoma City, the Jazz came out playing well early on, leading 6-5 after Bogdanovic and Donovan Mitchell buckets. But Dallas's 12-3 run eventually led to Utah trailing 30-24 after the one.

The Jazz continued to fight but struggled with turnovers, allowing the Mavericks to get out in transition for open looks from beyond the arc. After trailing by as many as 15, Utah rallied late to make it an 11-point deficit at the half.

Utah didn't go away without a fight, opening up the second half on an 8-3 run to make it a six-point game early in the third. But the Mavericks responded with a 12-0 run on four consecutive three-pointers, as the Jazz went into the fourth quarter trailing 85-68.

"Offensively, we've got to understand that different things will be there at different times. … We're learning," Snyder said.

Never going down without a fight, the Jazz found something on offense and made a sensational comeback in the final 12 minutes given the circumstances.

A 14-4 run made it a six-point game with 1:31 to play. But that was as close as the Jazz would get as the Mavericks responded with a 5-0 run to put the game out of reach.

Gobert finished with 12 points, 13 rebounds, and three blocks for his sixth straight double-double. Mitchell nearly had another double-double, finishing with 17 points, nine assists, and four rebounds.

Another bright spot for the Jazz was the play of Jordan Clarkson. The reigning sixth man of the year helped stage the epic comeback in the fourth quarter, finishing with 19 points, three rebounds, and a team-high +3 rating.

Doncic finished with 35 points, 16 rebounds, and seven assists to pace Dallas, while Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith combined for 44 points on 9-of-19 from beyond the arc.

These two teams will meet for the final time this season on March 27th in Dallas, a game that will have even higher stakes than Monday night.

"We've got to be aggressive. … It's about how do we respond on the 27th," Mitchell said.