Surprise! As a late Christmas present to all the fans, the Jazz came out and played some solid basketball at home, overcoming the absence of a couple of key guys to beat the Mavs, 97-88. So much for the doghouse expanding after the Bucks game… the absence of most of the bigs required J-Slow to play his 2 young bigs, and he did. Of course, there’s only 9 healthy players on the team (8 of them played, plus 1 who’s always injured), so it’s not like J-Slow has any other options. The same player that played way too many minutes against the Bucks was back again, playing the most minutes off of the bench. This time though, it was only good for the 6th most minutes on the team, and it did kinda end up being useful for the Jazz.
Why the Jazz won…
- Deron, while still hesitant to drive hard to the hoop (he kept settling for short jumpers/runners), played better. He went just 6-16 from the field, but he only took 3 treys (missed them all). He got 17 points… pretty much duplicating the Milwaukee line (except with 1 more shot made last night, and 4 fewer treys taken). But he threw in 13 assists and 3 boards, and only had 5 turnovers. He also got 4 steals, twice as many as anyone else on the team, and 1/3 of the Jazz total. Meanwhile, the opposing PGs (Jose Juan Barea, Jason Kidd) went a combined 5-19 from the field (2-9 from downtown), which is partially due to some sort of defensive presence by Deron. Of course, Kidd also played some 2-guard, and the Jazz were relatively lucky that Kidd kept launching treys and missing badly… open or not.
- The Koof & Fesenko aren’t your normal center rotation. In fact, if they are, you might be in trouble quite often. Last night was not one of those nights though. The Koof got the start, and was solid, going 8-11 for 18 points. He threw in 1 block, 8 boards, 2 assists & 2 steals, while only getting 2 fouls, which was huge with the dearth of bigs available. Fesenko, meanwhile, didn’t play as much (12 minutes, to 30 for Kosta), but threw in 8 points (4-5 shooting), along with 4 boards & 3 blocks. Erick Dampier didn’t go off as I feared, getting only 2 points, 8 boards & 2 blocks. The Koof also had a nice block on Dampier at one point, while Fesenko was partially behind the frustration that caused an ejection (more later).
- CJ was feeling it early, draining a couple of treys on his way to a 6-12 night (14 points) in 37 minutes. Brewer, meanwhile, was 8-15 from the field, getting 21 points to lead the Jazz, and throwing in 7 boards & 2 steals and assists in the process. He also finished the 3rd quarter on a high note, slipping behind the Mavs D and catching the inbound pass from Korver for an easy flush with less than 2 seconds left. That made up for an attempted buzzer-beater at the half… one that fell but left his hands just a touch too late.
- The Jazz were 23-27 from the line (15-17 for the Mavs). No player on the Jazz missed more than 1, and the 7-8 night for AK really saved his game offensively (he did have 14 rebounds). Brewer was 5-5 from the line, and Deron was 5-6.
- The ejection of Dirk the Jerk seemed to revitalize the Mavs near the end, but it ended up being that it was just the Jazz playing their normal D. After the FT for the flagrant (only 1, because the basket by Fesenko before counted), the Jazz were up 83-68. The Mavs promptly went on a 12-2 run, but again… that was really helped by the Jazz leaving the Mavs open at times. And since the Mavs weren’t really revitalized all that much, they never really threatened the Jazz late. After they cut the lead to 5 on that run, the Jazz built it back up and relatively cruised (I mean, there was no “Hack-A-(anyone)” late to reduce the Jazz to a FT shooting bunch, implying that it was over and that the Mavs just wanted to get out.
What kept the Mavs in it…
- Josh Howard went off for 18 points. Of course, the fact that his stat sheet is bare (other than the points, 2 steals, 1 block & 3 fouls) can’t be good for the Mavs.
- Jason Terry was on fire, getting 26 points on 10-18 shooting. Luckily for the Jazz, he was only 2-6 from downtown, because he had more than 2 good looks.
- The Mavs bench outscored the Jazz bench, 39-18. Of course, that can partially be explained by the fact that the Jazz don’t have much of a bench right now.
- Dirk did have 17 & 8 before his ejection early in the 4th quarter, and he was 6-10 from the field.
- No Knees played 16 minutes, and was more-or-less a negative impact save for the fist to the mouth that he took. That play near the end of the 1st quarter where the Jazz ran the clock down and then attempted a long jumper by No Knees (between the FT line and the 3-point line)… yeah. Never again. Please.
What caused Dirk’s ejection…
- Well, the play went as such. After a missed, Fesenko went up for the ball, and might’ve gone over the back on Dirk. He didn’t appreciate that. Then Dirk & No Knees were battling for position under the hoop, and No Knees kinda grabbed Dirk’s hand, moved it and let it go… getting the ball (which had just gone through on the Fesenko shot) in the process. Dirk didn’t take too kindly to that though, and seemingly elbowed No Knees in the arm. His arm continued though, moving backwards, and in the end, his fist ended up nailing No Knees in the mouth. Mavs HC Rick Carlisle…
“It appeared to me to be accidental, but they said his fist was closed so it’s an automatic Flagrant-2,” Carlisle said.
I guess that’s the rule or something, so it’s an automatic ejection, intentional or not.
- Before, Dirk was having an alright game (again, 17 & 8). He only had 3 fouls, so he wasn’t getting called for too many bad fouls. Just the one offensive one earlier (first half, I think). Dirk had the ball up at the top of the key (you know, ball up by the head, elbows out). Anyhow, he moved his right elbow down. AK, fearing for his life or something (remember last year… see below), decided to act a bit, jumping UP and falling backwards. The whistle blew, the offensive foul was called. Now, I’m not a genius, but generally, if someone elbows you in the face with the elbow moving DOWN, you definitely won’t be going UP. Eh, I’m not complaining. The refs have been generally bad to us anyways.
- It’s what Dirk does. Even last year, he got tossed in a game after a hard foul on AK. Dirk might be better off just avoiding the games in Utah.
The Jazz don’t get much rest… the flew off after the game and will play the Rockets in Houston tonight. For more from the Mavs side, head over to Mavs Moneyball. The Rockets will be coming off of a road loss to the Hornets last night. And unlike last night, that game obviously won’t be on KJZZ. More on that game later though.