Jazz 104, Mavericks 89
DALLAS (AP)—The way the Utah Jazz have been playing, they weren’t about to discount their 104-89 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night just because Jason Terry, Jerry Stackhouse and Erick Dampier sat out.
“They still have (Dirk) Nowitzki,” noted Matt Harpring.
Having lost five straight and six of seven, and with time running out on their chances of having home-court advantage for their first-round playoff series against Houston, the Jazz were thrilled with any victory.
“I don’t care if it’s 5-on-0, as long as we got a win,” Derek Fisher said. “We understand and respect the fact Dallas had a couple of guys out. That doesn’t take any feel-good away from us.”
Carlos Boozer had 32 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists, then came away talking about how well Utah defended. He could’ve just as easily bragged about their rebounding: a 50-26 advantage, with no Dallas player grabbing more than four.
“We have to try to use this for momentum the last three games,” Boozer said. “We’re not worried about Houston. If we only worry about ourselves, maybe we’ll catch them.”
Utah hadn’t won in Dallas since Dec. 20, 2002, losing seven straight, but this time caught the Mavericks on a night when their top priority was avoiding injuries. Dallas already has clinched the best record in the NBA.
“We kind of walked through the game, slept-walked,” coach Avery Johnson said. “They were just much more energized. They played like they had to have the game.”
Rebounding was only one example of Dallas’ lack of interest. A couple more: Late in the third quarter the Mavs used Nowitzki and Devin Harris alongside Kevin Willis, Austin Croshere and Maurice Ager. Dallas played the last 3:45 with three D-League graduates and 44-year-old Willis.
“We looked confused out there,” Devean George said. “We had a lot of different lineups and rotations. But that’s no excuse. They beat us on hustle points.”
Nowitzki scored 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting over 29 minutes after sitting out the previous game. Stackhouse was off for a second straight game and Terry was forced to miss his first game of the season. Dampier sat because of a shoulder problem.
Rookie J.J. Barea keyed a 10-0 rally to start the fourth quarter, getting Dallas within 74-72, but Williams made a 3-pointer off an inbounds play. That started a 15-2 run by the Jazz, resulting in only their second win in 11 games in the American Airlines Center.
The Mavericks remain stuck on 65 wins with three games left. Dallas must win them all to match the fourth-most wins in league history.
Williams had 17 points, nine assists and six rebounds. Fisher scored 15 points and Harpring added 12 in his first start of the season.
“I don’t think I started in the preseason, either,” Harpring said, both feet submerged in a big ice bucket.
Barea was Dallas’ second-leading scorer with 16 points. Howard had 12 and George 11. Willis scored six points, his first since returning to the NBA a few weeks ago as the league’s oldest player.
“By the playoffs my legs should be under me,” said Willis, who played 13 minutes. “I’m trying to get my wind. When that happens, I like my chances. It’s feeling more natural day by day. It’s a gradual process.”
The most interesting basket of the game was a 35-footer by Fisher to beat the buzzer at the end of the first quarter. On the play, Howard was knocked to the ground at midcourt, his back to the basket, and was feeling his lip for blood when the shot went up.
Terry got in for the third quarter—on the game’s radio broadcast, subbing for analyst Brad Davis. … After starting three straight games, Utah’s Ronnie Brewer played only two minutes. … Terry was the only Dallas player who still had a chance to play in all 82 games, so he was somewhat disappointed to sit out. There was a No. 31 sighting, though. The fan chosen to deliver the game ball wore one of his jerseys. … Injured Mavs C D.J. Mbenga had a nice memory of this season in his locker: a framed poster of him stuffing a dunk by Kobe Bryant.