Rudy Gobert had just gotten into a minor skirmish with Dallas’ Dorian Finney-Smith that resulted in a tech on the Mavericks forward and some free throws for the Utah Jazz’s center.
Seemingly the most energy the Jazz had shown all night, there was some momentary hope that it could spark some momentum, generate a bit of a run to close the deficit.
And then Joe Ingles committed a bizarre foul on Luka Doncic near half court to give the All-Star some free throws of his own; then Ingles stepped out of bounds; then a blown defensive rotation left Doncic wide open for a 3.
And just like that, the Jazz were down 18, and their hopes for crawling back into the game evaporated.
On Friday night against Orlando, pretty much everything went Utah’s way.
On Monday in Dallas, pretty much nothing did.
And so it was that, after their 111-103 loss, the Jazz were reduced to trying to turn a whole lot of nothing good into at least a little something.
“There’s going to be games like this. And, you know, they’re great challenges, they’re great lessons for us,” said Mike Conley, a rare bright spot with 28 points and seven assists. “Because, when we get to where we’re trying to get to in the playoffs, and playing these teams that are going to play physical and change up their coverages defensively, and they have nights where we shoot like we did tonight, we have to find ways to win anyways, and we had to find ways to push through. And we gave sparks of that tonight.”
“I really like the way we kept playing to the intensity,” added Rudy Gobert. “You know, they started the game very physical — a lot of throwing elbows, a lot of bumping me every time I went to the basket, on every rebound. And I feel like we kind of got surprised early on. And in the second quarter, we raised our physicality.”
So, on the positive side of the ledger: Lessons learned, and increased physicality.
Unfortunately, there were far more entries on the negative side …
They couldn’t make any 3s (12-44 — 27.3%).
They couldn’t slow the Mavs down from behind the arc (23-49 — 46.9%).
“At some point, we’ve talked about overcoming a poor shooting night — which we had tonight. But that said, [if] they make  more 3s than us, it’s going to be tough to do that,” coach Quin Snyder pointed out.
They not only expectedly surrendered points to Doncic (31 on 11-for-26 shooting), but they also got lit up by the likes of Finney-Smith (23 points on 5 of 12 from 3), Jalen Brunson (20 points on 4 of 7 from deep), Josh Richardson (17 points thanks to 5 of 5 from 3), and Tim Hardaway Jr. (16 points; 3 for 7).
Donovan Mitchell, fresh off a round of media stories about how he’s become one of the best shooters in the league, went 5 for 21 from the field.
And he wasn’t even the Jazz’s least-inefficient shooter.
No, that honor would go to Royce O’Neale, who couldn’t hit a thing and finished 0 for 8 — all from 3-point range.
So discombobulated was O’Neale that he switched sneakers at halftime, not that it made much difference — his struggles carried over to the other side of the ball, too, as the Mavs went through
“We just had a rough night,” Mitchell said. “For us to only lose that game by eight says a lot just about the will that we had.”
Now would probably be a good time to point out that the loss ended a nine-game winning streak — which is longer than any other team has had in the league this season. Also a good time for a reminder that, at 38-12, Utah still has the best record in the league.
A lot went wrong Monday in Dallas. Some of it was random, some of it the Jazz will need to fix. But, importantly, they came away feeling as though nothing that happened is something they are incapable of fixing.
“The biggest thing is not to overreact,” Mitchell concluded. “Sometimes [shots] are not going to go in. There’s going to be nights like this.”