Tonight’s game started out as a defensive slug-fest with the teams combining for 64 points in the first half. Dallas did a good job of rotating well and staying in front of their man if he wasn’t named George Hill.
Only Harrison Barnes and George Hill looked comfortable offensively in that first half. Deron Williams’ shot was off and Dirk’s jumper also proved unable to find the bottom of the net early on.
Down 20 late in the third quarter, the Mavs sprung into action closing out the penultimate quarter on a 15-2 run to cut the deficit to 7 points.
Dallas continued the run cutting Utah’s lead to as little as 4 points but ultimately the Jazz would pull away and win convincingly. Here’s what we learned tonight.
1 Defense is improving
It had taken a bit of time for the new core pieces to fit in snugly. Tonight we saw more signs that this team could be a top 10-15 team defensively as we suspected in the preseason.
On nights like tonight when the shots aren’t falling a strong defense could get this team a few extra wins, however tonight it wasn’t quite enough.
2 Harrison Barnes looks confident
By far the biggest knock on Barnes offensively was his hesitance with the ball in his hands. His dribble moves and decisions with the ball looked robotic and unnatural.
Barnes would drive the lane, get to a defender at the rim and couldn’t decide what decision to make. Tonight and throughout this season Barnes has been decisive and confident offensively.
Even when he makes the wrong decision it’s a huge improvement to see him attacking without hesitation. It has played a huge role in his offensive improvement this season.
3 Lack of dribble penetration hurts this offense tremendously hurts the offense
Outside of JJ Barea this team doesn’t have a player that can drive the lane at will and get penetration. Deron Williams could last year but hasn’t shown he can consistently this season.
Without players who can consistently create their own shots, this team relies on dribble penetration to jump start the offense. It hasn’t lead to success this year.