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Utah Jazz: Mavericks hold off Jazz 103-93

Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki, right, attempts a shot as Utah Jazz Marvin Williams (2) defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Friday, Nov. 22, 2013, in Dallas. Dallas won 103-93. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

By Aaron Falk

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Nov 22 2013 11:00PM
Updated Nov 24, 2013 07:10PM

Dallas • They worked the ball around the perimeter, down to the baseline and finally to Derrick Favors, who rose above the rim and dunked with both hands to cap off a 23-point turnaround late in the fourth quarter.

It was a gritty effort from the one-win Utah Jazz, led by reserves Marvin Williams, Diante Garrett and Jeremy Evans, who combined for 37 points Friday night against the Dallas Mavericks.

Just one, all too familiar, problem: Somewhere in the first 24 minutes of play at American Airlines Center, the Jazz let the Mavericks build up a 28-point advantage. Utah cut Dallas’ lead to five but never got any closer as another comeback came up short.

"It’s too hard to fight back from," Utah coach Ty Corbin said after the 103-93 loss. "In the second half, we showed a lot of fight to fight back, but we can’t continue to dig that kind of hole for ourselves, at home or on the road. It’s just too hard to overcome."

It’s been a common occurrence for the rebuilding Jazz this season.

The team started the week by falling behind by 28 to the Golden State Warriors in Salt Lake City before making a run and closing the gap to 11 by the final buzzer. In Boston earlier this month, the Jazz let the Celtics go up 25 before beginning a rally. Even the team’s one win, a 111-105 victory over the New Orleans Hornets, required the Jazz to claw out of a 16-point hole.

So after the most recent defeat, the team’s 13th on the year, players ticked off numbers in the locker room.

"It’s very difficult to dig yourself into a hole — 20 points, 25 points, 30 points— and then come out in the second half and put forth an effort like we did," said Williams, who scored a team-high 19 points a day after having surgery to reset his broken nose, "because you fight so hard and you’re still down."

It was a dangerous cocktail from the beginning as the Jazz brought their worst-ranked defense to Dallas, trying to slow down Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis and one of the league’s top offenses.

Ellis distributed his 26 points evenly in both halves, and Nowitzki hit for 9 of his 18 in the first.

When coach Rick Carlisle reminded his team they’re no longer allowed to grab the ball after a made basket, for fear of suffering a technical foul, it seemed the most important advice the Mavericks (9-4) would need against the lifeless Jazz.

Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward, coming off a 1-for-17 night in New Orleans, didn’t take a shot until just before the buzzer at the end of the first — and when he finally did, he missed the rim entirely.

But in the second half, the Jazz came out with renewed purpose, and the Mavericks faltered.

Williams scored 12 points in the third quarter as the Jazz started to chisel away at the lead. Evans got above the rim often en route to 14 points on 7-of-7 shooting, while adding three boards and two blocks.

Garrett, meanwhile, clocked a seven-point, eight-assist, zero-turnover shift. And Hayward started to come alive, finishing with 13 points on the night.

But with the Mavericks clinging to a five-point edge, the Jazz shaded toward Nowitzki as Ellis drove to the basket. The guard kicked the ball to Jose Calderon on the weak side for a 3-pointer — one of Ellis’ six assists — to put the game out of reach.

"Probably the biggest shot of the game," Carlisle said.

The Jazz know something must change as they head to Oklahoma City for the third and final game of this road swing.

"It is a mindset," Williams said. "You have to come out and establish yourself early. I think the teams we’ve played, veteran teams, always come out and try to establish themselves early and, that’s what Dallas did tonight."

It may also mean a tweak to the team’s starting lineup.

"We’re getting full speed now, so we have more options there," Corbin said. "We’ve got to make sure the matchups are right, but I thought that group we started at the beginning of the second half [Trey Burke, Hayward, Richard Jefferson, Williams and Favors] gave us a little bit more energy and we were able to move things around on offense. I thought we clicked a little bit better and were able to space the floor."

For now the Jazz are left with another unsatisfying finish. "We come back and save a little face," Jefferson said, "but at the end of the day, the result is the same."

afalk@sltrib.comTwitter: @tribjazz

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