With a 113, 108 victory over the Utah Jazz, the Dallas Mavericks moved to two games below .500 for the first time since Dec. 20. The victory now has Dallas is now tied with Utah for 9th in the west, two games back of LA for the 8th spot in the West with 12 games to go. Mike James tallied a season-high (game-high) 19 points to go along with three rebounds and a team-high-tying five assists in 32 minutes against the Jazz on Sunday (previous high: 14 points vs. Oklahoma City Mar. 17). It was his highest scoring game since Feb. 20, 2009 at New Jersey (19 points), as a member of the Washington Wizards. He scored in double figures for the seventh time in his last 12 games (ninth time this season). James is averaging 12.2 points and 5.0 assists over his last five games. By going 3-of-4 from 3-point range, James has shot 54.2 percent (13-of-24) from deep over his last five contests. He has made at least one 3-pointer in each of his last 13 games and is shooting 48.3 percent (29-of-60) from beyond the arc in that span.
Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 11 points and five rebounds in the opening half. He finished with 17 points and six rebounds on the night. He did all of his damage in just over 26 minutes of action. He rested the entire fourth quarter.
Some notes before the quotes:
- The Mavericks had seven players in double figures in the victory over the Jazz on Sunday: Mike James (19), Dirk Nowitzki (17), Shawn Marion (15), Vince Carter (15), Darren Collison (13), O.J. Mayo (10) and Elton Brand (10). It marked the fourth time this season that Dallas had seven players in double digits (also Dec. 12 at Boston, Jan. 20 at Orlando and Mar. 8 at Detroit). The Mavericks did not have one game with seven players in double digits all of last season.
- After a scheduled game off, Elton Brand went a perfect 5-for-5 from the field and managed 10 points, five rebounds and two blocks in 18 minutes. He scored all 10 of his points in the first half. Brand’s second block at the 4:32 mark of the fourth quarter was the 1,700th block of his career. He became the 24th player in NBA history with at least 1,700 rejections.
- Dallas shot 54.3 percent (38-of-70) from the field in the win over the Jazz on Sunday. The Mavericks improved to 17-3 this season when they shoot at least 50 percent from the floor.
Here is the quoteboard for Dallas’ much-needed victory over Utah.
On his team’s execution at the end of the game: “The end of the game was ugly. We got through it. I guess I’ve been around this game long enough to realize and understand that you can’t make a win feel like a loss. [Utah] did a good job, we did a horrible job, but we got the win so we’ve got to move on.”
On the play of Mike James: “Mike played well. I thought he played a good all around game. I thought his defense was solid. Timely shot making, made good plays, and made the timely plays. We need him to keep doing what he’s doing. We need [Darren Collison] to give us the speed and energy and scoring off the bench. That’s a tag team position. We’re going to need it to be a tag team position with Chris Paul coming in here on Tuesday.”
On the play of Brandan Wright and having to go up against bigger players: “Well it’s very tough for him. He got a few good things going with some of the smaller lineups out there. Look, we’re not a perfect team, in case anybody hasn’t noticed. These are challenges we have faced all year and it’s my job to make sure that we are mixing and matching as best we can, that the guys are playing hard, and that we are putting everything in to it. If we do that we will be OK.”
On if it was a solid game for Elton Brand after having the night off against Boston: “Absolutely. He had a great bounce tonight. He hit his first five shots … We need to have Elton fresh. He did a great job tonight.”
More on Mike James as a successful starter: “He takes great care of himself. He’s in tremendous shape for his age. He has a great enthusiasm for the game, and he competes. He’s a competitor. It took a while for him to get in real NBA game shape. We basically got him off the street in January. He played D-League games in three days. I don’t know if he even had a practice with him … He’s a gamer. The thing I like about him, he’s one of these guys that has great experience and he has great confidence about himself. If there are blunt things you need to say to him, you can be completely straight forward with him, he’ll take everything the right way and he’ll keep battling his butt off. That’s what I like. His game is that he’s an aggressive scoring point guard … Tonight was a great example of why we need him.”
On what Mike James brings to the team: “Attitude and fearlessness … He’s just very seasoned. I think he’s done a great job of taking on this role. He brings it in practice. He pushes in practice. He’s really helped our guards. He’s really helped [Darren Collison] with just his focus and approach. They talk a lot and they go at it in practices which is good.”
Is seasoned another way to say old? “No. He’s seasoned. He’s a little more seasoned than I am.”
On now being two games back of the 8th spot: “It’s been so up and down. We’re going to take it one game at a time. We still believe. We still want to play well.”
On being close to shaving: “That’s what I’m looking forward to. Making the playoffs is most important but shaving is essential.”
On playing well as Carlisle strategically held him out of their last game: “Coach told me [before the game against Boston] that I wasn’t going to play much or even not at all. We had some bigs coming in and he was going to need me a lot so I was prepared. Like any employee, I wanted to make my boss look smart.”
On his performance: “My teammates were looking for me. I was able to get going early and had a few couple of plays to get me going. It’s always good when my little 15-footer is going in and my floater is going in. I got some good open looks on my 3-ball and it was going in.”
On his hot streak: “It’s all about winning. I’m not out there just for stats. I’m out there to try to help this team win. Our goal is trying to make the playoffs and the only way we can make the playoffs is if we win games. I’m just out there playing the game and trying to play it the right way.”
On this final stretch: “We have 12 games left. Our goal is to go 12-0. We don’t know if that’s possible, but that’s our goal. Until we lose a game, this is what we’re going to focus on. We can control our destiny by winning games and that’s the only way we can give ourselves an opportunity. If the Lakers go 12-0 and the Rockets go 12-0 and we go 12-0, we at least put up a good fight … We’re not going to give up on the season. We’re just going to continue to just keep staying locked in.”
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.