The Dallas Mavericks rolled to their fifth straight win, this time over the Utah Jazz, beating them Monday night 111-103. Luka Doncic led Dallas with 31 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists. Mike Conley shot lights out for Utah, pouring in 28 points.
Facing a tough Jazz squad without Kristaps Porzingis is a daunting task, but in the first quarter the Dallas Mavericks answered the call. Despite not having the best rim defense, the Mavericks connected on 5 of 12 outside shots, mainly through drive and kick opportunities. Luka Doncic scored nine while Dorian Finney-Smith chipped in eight. The Jazz put Rudy Gobert on Finney-Smith, resulting in five threes attempted in the frame and he hit two. Though the Mavericks led by seven at one point, a late Mike Conley flurry pulled Utah back in. Dallas lead 27-25 after one.
Cold shooting continued for the Jazz in the second and the Dallas Mavericks took advantage. Led early by the ever-consistent Jalen Brunson and the streaky Tim Hardaway, the Mavericks built up a lead to eight which would hold, more or less, throughout the frame. Rudy Gobert’s rim protection was a problem for Luka Doncic, but Jason Richardson answered the call, stepping up and hitting more threes. Dorian Finney-Smith’s strong game continued through strong rebounding and passing, though he wasn’t able to hit on a few outside looks. Dallas took a 50-42 lead into the half.
It seemed like things might turn the way of the Jazz in the third, as they slowly chipped into the Dallas lead. At the 7:30 mark, the Mavericks led by five, 60-55. Utah just kept coming and it seemed like only a matter of time before they went on a three point flurry or because Rudy Gobert took over on defense. Only, that never happened. Dallas finished the half on a 27-14 run. Luka Doncic went nuts from three point range and DFS continued to attack. Dallas lead 87-69 after three quarters.
The Jazz wouldn’t go quietly though, scoring 11 points in the first two minutes. But the Mavericks just kept scoring. Jalen Brunson threes, Dorian Finney-Smith threes. It was beautiful. Then things stopped for both teams. For the Mavericks, they couldn’t hit open looks, for the Jazz, they appeared stuck in quicksand. Dallas actually went four minutes without a basket. Things finally broke late for both teams, but Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson scored enough to keep Utah at bay. The Dallas Mavericks walk away with a 111-103 victory.
Dorian Finney-Smith earned the respect of the Utah Jazz
The scouting report for Finney-Smith has been the same for years: let him shoot from the outside. There’s good reason for that, he’s not a great shooter. In fact on wide open shots, he takes many wide open shots from three and hits at a low rate (38.5% on wide open attempts). This isn’t a criticism, it is what it is. Teams do not guard him and that can have consequences.
Against the Jazz, Dorian was the difference maker that set the tone for everyone else’s success. His shooting (5-12 from three, while scoring a season high 23 points) broke the defensive structure of the Jazz. Rudy Gobert had no choice in coming out to three point line on a few occasions, which resulted in Dorian drives and kicks and a few shots at the rim.
I don’t know if Dorian just needs more volume, as he shoots 4.6 a game already, or if we’re just riding the wave of Dorian shooting. He’s back up to 36% on the year prior to this contest. For tonight though, who cares, that was awesome and I’m glad he had such a compelling game.
Three point shooting made the difference
An obvious point, but the Jazz are among the league leaders in volume and percentage from behind the arc and they shot 27% to the 46% shooting bonanza for the Mavericks. Time for a cliché: it’s a make or miss league.
There’s yet to be a compelling analysis about what actually affects three point defense for a team that I’ve seen and sometimes you’re at the bad end of a shooting streak. I’ll happily enjoy the Jazz missing most of the game though, since Dallas has been on the rough end of things plenty of times this season.
Guarding the Gobert dives
The Mavericks did a very nice job on help and recover defense on Rudy Gobert’s dives to the hoop. The lack of three point makes seemed to make that a little easier as the Jazz rarely made Dallas pay from behind the arc on the late challenges, but it was pretty great to see Maxi Kleber and Melli help and get back to bodying Gobert. There’s probably much more to it than how I’m explaining it, but it’s one of the things which allowed the Mavericks to not get totally worked on rebounding as well.