Despite holding the Jazz to just 13 points in the fourth quarter and some late game heroics from Harrison Barnes, the Mavs fell to the Jazz 103-100. A three from Rodney Hood with .8 seconds on the clock sealed the deal and the Mavs slid to 6-20 on the year. Here’s a few observations from the loss.
Rebounding was an issue
Rick Carlisle came in knowing that the Mavs would need some rebounding help to eke out a win in Utah. He talked in pregame about the need to get double digit rebounds from his guards, but that never materialized. Mavs guards finished just shy of that bar with 9 rebounds and the Mavs as a team were out rebounded 41-27. Rudy Gobert, the most powerful French giant since Andre, only outrebounded his opposite number Merji by 5, so it’s safe to safe the Mavs as a team were outmatched on the glass.
The Justin Anderson rollercoaster still has some twists and turns
Simba’s first half was a perfect microcosm of all the ways his development can be excruciating. He entered the game and almost immediately closed out way too hard on a three that allowed Exum to get right to the basket for an easy score. Frustrating. Almost immediately after that he shot and made two beautiful in-rhythm threes. Exciting. Then he tussled with Trey Lyles over a complete non-issue for which both earned technicals. Frustrating. Later in the half he gave a completely unnecessary foul early in the clock that sent Utah into the penalty. Frustrating again. He finished with 10 points and 3 boards off the bench and a +4 plus/minus. Hopeful.
I came into the season with high hopes for Anderson. I knew that he would have the opportunity to earn regular playing time and I hoped we’d see him sharpen up some aspects of his game that were exposed during his rookie season. I still think his numbers will improve — he’s a much better three-point shooter than his career average of 27 percent just for example — but what concerns me is that he continues to make boneheaded plays on both sides of the ball. Silly fouls, rushed shots, turnovers, and missed defensive assignments are still showing up in his game nightly. I believe he’s got enough of a work ethic to iron those out, but it’s just hard to watch a promising young talent not be able to fully take advantage of the opportunity he has to grow right now.
As one savvy, Twitter commenter pointed out though, we’re just not used to seeing young players develop in Dallas. It’s not always linear improvement. I still have faith that Simba can grow into a formidable NBA player.
The Jazz show us the ghost of Mavs future?
The Utah Jazz have quietly(ish) grown into one of the West’s most promising young teams. Gobert, fresh off a max contract, looks like he’ll soon be in the conversation about the NBA’s most dominant centers. Add to that, a young core of Hayward, Hood, and Exum coupled with veteran leaders like George Hill and you have everywhere the Mavs organization would want to be once Dirk retires.
But the Jazz have paid for those players with bad basketball. Their only playoff appearance in the last six years was a first round loss to the Spurs in 2012 and over the span the Jazz have finished 17.66 games back from the number one seed in the West on average. Sure the Mavs would love to have young pieces the like the Jazz do right now, but are we willing to pay the price? Only time will tell.