For 30 minutes Thursday night, Earl Watson sat in front of his locker, slumped over, with his back to a roomful of teammates and media.
Watson had just played well — again — during Dallas’ 94-91 victory over the Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena.
But he wasn’t happy.
Far from it.
“We had a good opportunity to go from a good team to a great team and we let it slip away,” he said. “Give them credit. They beat us. But at the same time we still had a chance to win. It’s tough.”
Watson finished with five points, two rebounds and seven assists. The other nine Jazz players combined for nine assists.
Still, Watson was as gloomy as a Salt Lake Valley inversion after the Mavericks snapped an 87-87 tie in the final 2:26.
“I’m not into moral victories, man,” he said. “I’m into wins and losses. I don’t care about stats. I don’t care about anything but winning and losing. You couldn’t pay me enough money to be happy to lose. So it doesn’t mean anything.”
Watson’s performance against the Mavs stood out even more because starting point guard Devin Harris struggled.
Harris scored one point in 24 minutes. He was 0-for-7 from the field.
With 3:04 left in the game, however, coach Tyrone Corbin put Harris back into the game for Watson, who had played the entire fourth quarter.
“I thought Earl had been in there quite a while,” Corbin said, “so I thought we’d give him a breather. He might have been OK, but we decided to stick with our regular rotation — our somewhat regular rotation.”
Corbin praised Watson: “He gave us everything. You have to love his fight.”
With 56 seconds left in the third quarter, Watson was at the center of the game’s most controversial sequence.
First, Utah’s Derrick Favors was called for an offensive foul.
As he was holding the ball, Dirk Nowitzki slapped it out of his hand.
Watson intervened, approached Nowitzki and slapped the ball out of his hands.
Watson was called for a technical foul.
“I saw him smack the ball out of Favors’ hands,” he said, “so I did the same thing. But I guess, it’s the second one that counts. Maybe next time I’ll be first.”