The last time Dallas played the Utah Jazz — a month ago in Salt Lake City — the Mavericks didn’t have their two stars. Luka Doncic was out with a bruised heel and Kyrie Irving hadn’t yet joined the team after having just been traded from Brooklyn.
Dallas didn’t skip a beat, cruising past the host Jazz 124-111 thanks in part to 29-point performances by Josh Green and Jaden Hardy.
“We believed we could win this from before the game even started,” Hardy said. “The Jazz didn’t seem like they were taking it seriously. They came out late before the game to warm up, all nonchalant.”
When the two teams play for the fourth time this season Tuesday night in Dallas, the Jazz will have to be anything but nonchalant in order to pull off a road upset.
Utah comes into this matchup having lost three in a row and without several key players — namely, Mike Conley and Malik Beasley, who have since been traded.
On Sunday, the same day the Mavericks just came up short in a clash with the Phoenix Suns, the Jazz were turned back by Oklahoma City for the second time in three days.
“I think in general, we played three quarters of pretty good basketball,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said after the 129-119 loss. “We just put ourselves in a big hole to start the game.”
If there was a bright side to Sunday’s setback for the Jazz, it was Jordan Clarkson’s career-high assist night. Known for most of his career as being a shooter, the Utah guard showed his evolved game while dishing out 12 assists to go with 18 points.
“For real? Dang, I never passed the ball that much in my life,” Clarkson joked when told about his career-best passing outing. “Tonight was just about the game and reads. … They were helping a lot, so I was just trying to make the right play.”
This will be Utah’s third game of a six-game road trip. The Mavericks are wrapping up a six-game homestand in which they’ve won only two of five contests.
Sunday’s showdown versus the Suns showed how close Dallas is to being in the thick of things come Western Conference playoff time. Kevin Durant hit a late tie-breaking jumper, and Phoenix closed out the 130-126 victory after Doncic’s game-tying attempt with 3 seconds left spun off the rim.
Doncic scored 34 points with nine rebounds despite dealing with a thigh issue, which led to him being a bit hobbled. He told reporters the leg injury has been bothering him for about a week. He isn’t sure when it happened.
“Today was the worst,” Doncic said. “I just tried to keep going.”
Doncic was involved in a run-in with Suns guard Devin Booker in the waning moments of Sunday’s game. Both players were assessed with technical fouls.
“There’s some bad blood still there,” said Tim Hardaway Jr., whose Mavericks eliminated the Suns in a seven-game series last postseason. “I think everybody saw that the last couple seconds of the game. I hope they’re ready for many more to come.”
The Jazz announced Monday that Collin Sexton (left hamstring strain) will be re-evaluated in a week.
–Field Level Media