More big FT games like in Jazz win needed

PHOENIX -- The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Utah Jazz Saturday night by17 points and beat them at the free throw line by 16.

The Mavs held a 32-17 advantage in free throw attempts and a 26-10 edge in free throws made. The discrepancy in attempts is huge for any NBA game, but Dallas won't quibble; it's been on the other end of lopsided whistle situations before. The Jazz weren't happy about it. Al Jefferson was so frustrated that he drew two technicals in the final minute and was tossed.

The 32 attempts represented the ninth time this season that Dallas has taken 30 or more free throws -- including once against tonight's opponent, the Phoenix Suns in December. Conversely, they've attempted fewer than 20 free throws in 24 games, exactly one-third of the games they've played. This isn't breaking news: The Mavs would greatly help themselves by getting to the line more.

Without a dominant low-post scoring threat or a consistent penetrator, the Mavs rank 26th in the NBA in free attempts, taking 22.4 a game. Thus, despite ranking fifth in free throw percentage (78.5), the Mavs are just 24th in free throws made per game at 17.6.

In March, as the Mavs have gone 8-5, three times they've taken32 or more free throws, but four times they've taken 17 or fewer and overall are down slightly, averaging 23.3 attempts in those 13 games.

Considering their accuracy at the stripe, it would certainly behoove the Mavs to shoot more, but that's a difficult proposition for a predominantly jump-shooting team. Dirk Nowitzki (89.4 percent) is on another long streak with 72 consecutive made throws. He leads the team with 6.1 free throw attempts a game. Tyson Chandler is second at 3.9.

Jason Terry gets there 2.7 times a game. Jason Kidd, an 87.3-percent free throw shooter, averages less than one a game (0.99).

And Rodrigue Beaubois, the Mavs' great hope to become the penetrator they so desperately need, has taken just 17 free throws in 18 games. He's made 14 of them.