Setting the Table: Utah Jazz (Game 35)

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on January 7, 2013 under Previews | Be the First to Comment

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With the brutal overtime loss to the New Orleans Hornets, the Dallas Mavericks (13-21) will play the Utah Jazz (17-18) in a game that they absolutely have to get. Dallas has suffered losses to some of the worst teams of the league and that has caused the Mavericks continue to fall further and further behind the pack in the race for the eight seed in the Western Conference. With them falling behind more and more, the games become even more important. The margin for error is starting to become razor thin. Dirk Nowitzki is fully back as he returned to the starting lineup against the Hornets, so the Mavericks have to find their groove with their full cast of characters are do it in a hurry.

The game won’t be easy against the Jazz as Utah has always been a hostile environment for the Mavericks. In addition, the brutal front line combination of Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter will make it a physical battle for the Mavericks.

Here are the notes for the game between the Mavericks and the Jazz.

Series Notes:

The Jazz have won the last two showdowns between the two teams. The Jazz defeated the Mavericks 113-94 in the first meeting between the two clubs this season at Utah on Oct. 31, 2012. Darren Collison (17), Brandan Wright (15), O.J. Mayo (12) and Vince Carter (12) scored in double figures for Dallas in the loss. The Jazz snapped a seven-game losing streak against the Mavericks with a 123-121 triple-overtime win at Utah on Apr. 16, 2012. With the victory on, Utah avoided being swept by Dallas (in a four-game season series) for the second straight year. Dallas hadn’t swept a four-game season series with Utah prior to the 2010-11 season.

The Mavericks are just 18-57 all-time on the road against the Jazz. Dallas won three straight games against Utah on the road before falling to the Jazz in triple overtime on Apr. 16, 2012. The triple-overtime game at Utah on Apr. 16, 2012 lasted 3 hours and 16 minutes and was the longest game in Mavericks history. Dallas’ only other triple-overtime game occurred
on Dec. 29, 1989 (Dallas lost 144-140 at Portland).

It’s a Small World:

Jazz guard Raja Bell played for the Mavericks during the 2002-03 season and averaged 3.1 points, 1.9 rebounds and 15.6 minutes in 75 games (32 starts). Bell was a teammate of Mavericks forward Shawn Marion in Phoenix from 2005-08. Jazz point guard Jamaal Tinsley played four seasons for Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle in Indiana from 2003-07 and one season for Mavericks assistant coach Jim O’Brien in Indiana in 2007-08. Jazz forward DeMarre Carroll played a season and a half with Mavericks guard O.J. Mayo in Memphis from 2009-11.

Corey Crowder, the father of Mavericks forward Jae Crowder, played in 51 games for the Jazz in 1991-92 and averaged 2.2 points and 6.4 minutes. He was a teammate of Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin on Utah in 1991-92. Mavericks forward Brandan Wright played part of the 2010-11 season with Jazz forward Derrick Favors on the New Jersey Nets. Jazz guard Mo Williams was traded from the L.A. Clippers to Utah as part of the three-team deal that sent Lamar Odom from Dallas to the L.A. Clippers.

Three Keys

1. If the Mavericks build a lead, protect it. The Mavericks are 12-3 (.800) this season when they lead going into the fourth quarter, including 8-1 at home. All three of the Mavericks’ losses in such games have come in overtime (at Charlotte Nov. 10, 2012; at Oklahoma City Dec. 27, 2012; vs. New Orleans Jan. 5, 2013). The Mavericks are also 12-5 (.706) this season when they build at least a 10-point lead. All five of the Mavericks’ losses in such games have also been decided in overtime (led by 15 at Charlotte but lost 101-97; led by 13 at Minnesota on but lost 114-106; led by 11 at Oklahoma City on  but lost 111-105; led by 10 at Miami on but lost 119-109; led by 11 vs. New Orleans on but lost 99-96). Utah has proved to be very resilient this season by leading the league with the most comeback wins after trailing by at least 10 points in a game with nine of them. Memphis and Phoenix are the next closest in terms of comeback victories with six.

2. Withstand the attack by Al Jefferson. The physical big man continues to make an impact on the glass for the Jazz. He is ranked 11th in the NBA in total rebounds, including 16 of 35 games with 10+ rebounds this season. Last season, Jefferson played in 32 out of the team’s first 35 games and has played in 34 of the team’s first 35 games this season.

3. Let Dirk be Dirk. The Mavericks were without the services of 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki for the game against the Jazz on Oct. 31, 2012. Nowitzki dropped 40 points in each of the final two meetings with the Jazz in 2011-12 (40 vs. Utah on Mar. 3, 2012; 40 in the 3OT game at Utah on Apr. 16, 2012). Dirk averaged 30.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 39.7 minutes in three starts against the Jazz last season.

Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.