INJURY UPDATE: Monta Ellis has a strained right hamstring. He limped to the locker room late in the fourth quarter and his status is unknown. He didn't say much after the game, but he was walking pretty slowly. He said more will be known tomorrow.
The Utah Jazz exploded out of the gate, scoring 21 points in the first six minutes. They managed just 60 points the rest of the game, and only 14 in the final quarter, fizzling out and making this another "restful" game for Dirk Nowitzki and some of the other veterans.
Dirk continues an extremely impressive run of efficient offense, scoring 20 points on 5-of-9 shooting. As mentioned, he got some rest, playing just 26 minutes tonight. I don't think you could have drawn up a better plan for him as the All-Star Break looms.
Monta Ellis led all players with 22 points, but according to the broadcast, left to go to the locker room before the end of the game. This may be nothing, but if more information surfaces we will provide an update.
Though the game wasn't exactly a blowout most the way through, Dallas led comfortably from the end of the first quarter on, and blew the game open in the fourth. There really wasn't a facet of the game where Dallas didn't play better, and frankly, this is the sort of outcome playoff teams should get when facing a young, inexperienced roster and a franchise clearly in rebuild mode.
Dallas plays Boston Sunday on NBA TV, with just three games remaining until the break. After a minor slump recently, the Mavericks look about as good as they have all year, and are really starting to build momentum.
A third straight blowout (and fourth straight win overall) means that, in the last three games, the Mavs have outscored their opponents by a total of 55 points.
Marvin Williams led the way for Utah with 21 points. 14 of those came from that early barrage when it looked like Williams was going to put up a Mirza Teletovic-type game on Dallas. Williams cooled off from there, and not to pile on the good folk from the beehive state (also, I had no idea Utah's nickname was "the beehive state"), but he didn't get much of any help from his Jazz teammates.
(What cooled Williams off in the second half? "Taking me off him," Dirk said.)
The Dallas offense also sputtered a bit at certain moments, but Dirk managed to keep the engine going by getting to the free throw line nine times -- as in true Jerry Sloan fashion, Utah was not afraid to hand out fouls.
One of Jose Calderon's four made three pointers ballooned the lead up over 20 points halfway through the fourth quarter. To that point, Utah had connected on just one field goal in the final frame, and though Dallas has had an unfortunate number of blown leads on their ledger this season, you didn't get the idea the Jazz had had that kind of run in them.
The Mavs three-headed monster ("monster" might be a bit strong; they're more a large but relatively benign Harry and the Hendersons-type monster) at center combined for 24 points and 15 rebounds in 40 minutes.
A win is a win, but we will see if Dallas gets a slightly sturdier test from the Boston Celtics Sunday. One doesn't want to look ahead, but a six game winning streak would be nice heading into the final game pre-All Star Break against the Pacers.