How it happened: It wasn’t quite the dominant performance a playoff contender should want against a team collecting pingpong balls, but it was a win for the Dallas Mavericks.
Ideally, the Mavs starters could have spent the fourth quarter icing their knees and resting in preparation for Saturday night’s game against the Denver Nuggets in Colorado, but Dallas didn’t bury the Utah Jazz after building a big lead.
The Jazz’s lone lead occurred when Utah scored the first bucket of the game. The Mavs led by 15 in the first quarter and 28 in the second quarter and pretty much put it in cruise control from that point.
Utah (1-13) twice trimmed the deficit to five points -- the latter occurrence with 4:41 remaining in the fourth quarter -- keeping it close enough for Mavs coach Rick Carlisle to stick with his regular rotation. An and-1 turnaround jumper by Dirk Nowitzki, which bumped the Mavs’ lead back to 11 after the free throw, essentially served as the dagger.
Monta Ellis led the Mavs with 26 points, on 8-of-19 shooting, and six assists. Center Samuel Dalembert had his first double-double for the Mavs, scoring a season-high 18 points on 8-of-8 shooting and grabbing 12 rebounds. Nowitzki also scored 18 points despite an off shooting night (5-of-14 from the floor).
The Mavs’ defense was dreadful in the second half, when Utah’s Marvin Williams scored 16 of his team-high 19 points. The Jazz shot 59.5 percent from the floor and scored 59 points after halftime.
What it means: The Mavs (9-4) have the fourth-best record in the Western Conference as they head to Denver for the second game of a back-to-back. Dallas is one of five teams which is still undefeated at home this season, joining the Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers, Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs. After sweeping this week’s three-game home stand, the Mavs are 7-0 at the American Airlines Center, their best home start since opening 10-0 in 2003-04.
Play of the game: The fast break started when Dalembert denied Derrick Favors’ two-hand dunk attempt. It ended with Shawn Marion throwing down a vicious one-hand jam over Utah big man Enes Kanter. Jose Calderon fed Marion, who filled the left lane on the break, for the bucket that stretched the Mavs’ lead to 20-6.
Stat of the night: Nine of the Jazz’s 13 losses have come by double-digit margins.