Dallas Mavericks

Surging Mavericks comfortably beat NBA-best Jazz in 'circled' game

There was a different intensity to this game, especially from the hosts as the Mavericks secured a rather easy 111-103 win against the league-best Utah Jazz in Dallas.

Five different players scored in double figures, led by their young Slovenian sensation Luka Doncic, who finished with 31 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists.

Leading by as many as 18, the Mavericks knocked down 23 3-pointers on 46.9% efficiency while holding the Jazz, the league's best 3-point shooting team in terms of makes, to just 12 3-pointers on 44 attempts.

For the Jazz, Mike Conley Jr. scored a team-high 28 points as the trio of Royce O'Neale, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Donovan Mitchell went a combined 1-of-19 from long distance.

Different intensity for Mavs

"I really circled this game," Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith said postgame. "I wanted to play them again. I knew I was going to get a bunch of shots."

"We knew that we were going to try to make the game look different today, we'll say that," said Mavericks wing Josh Richardson.

Both players were referring to the two games that the team played in Salt Lake City in late January, where in the span of three days, the Mavericks lost two games to the Jazz by a combined 31 points.

For Finney-Smith and Richardson, both key members of the Mavericks rotation, those games were their first contests back after missing the previous nine games due to the league's health and safety protocols.

Now, fully healthy and surging, having won 19 of their last 26 coming into this one, the Mavericks made this game look very different.

In this one, the duo combined for 40 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists on 14-of-26 shooting from the field (53.8%). Finney-Smith's 23 points and five 3-pointers were a season-high while Richardson shot a perfect 5-of-5 from distance.

"I ain't going to say no excuses, but a couple of guys were coming off COVID and I could barely breathe," Finney-Smith said postgame talking about those two games in late January.

Mavericks defence stepping up

For the season, Dallas is middle of the league - ranking 15th for their defensive rating. However, there's no doubt about the fact that their defence has gradually improved especially over the past month.

In the 34 games prior to the All-Star break, their defensive rating ranked 24th in the league and their average points allowed (112.3) ranked was 18th.

Whereas in the 15 games since where the Mavericks have gone 10-5, their defensive rating is ninth-best and their average points allowed tally of 103.8 is tied for third-best in the league.

"The way we played defence, that was the key to the game," Doncic said postgame. "I think we played amazing defence today."

The 103 points are the fewest for the Jazz since their 96-86 win on Jan. 10 (ET) in Detroit, evidence of the Mavericks' play on the defensive end of the floor.

Having said that, what's most commendable is Dallas put up such a showcase without their second-best player in Kristaps Porzingis, in their third game over a four-day stretch.

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