Jazz Can Retain First Place With Mavericks Sweep
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz can maintain sole ownership of first place in the Western Conference with a sweep over the Dallas Mavericks Friday night.
The Jazz beat Dallas on Wednesday jump the Los Angeles Lakers for the West’s top seed and the league’s top overall record at 14-4.
The team’s 10-game win streak began on January 8 with a victory over the Milwaukee Bucks and has continued through the 116-104 victory over the Mavericks in Salt Lake City Wednesday night.
Jazz Sit Alone In First Place
The Jazz earned their 10th straight and their claim to first place with the win despite playing without guard Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell suffered a possible concussion against the New York Knicks on Tuesday night and awoke Wednesday feeling concussion-like symptoms.
The guard has entered the NBA’s concussion protocol which he must clear before returning to the floor. Mitchell will remain unavailable for Friday’s game.
Joe Ingles started in Mitchell’s absence and had his best game of the young season. Ingles finished with 21 points on seven made threes, while adding eight assists and four rebounds in the win.
Jordan Clarkson led all scorers with 31 points off the bench while collecting seven rebounds to lead the second unit.
Center Rudy Gobert also set season-highs in points and rebounds recording 29 points and 20 rebounds, his first 20-20 game since his 23 point, 22 rebound performance against the Los Angeles Clippers on January 16, 2019.
The Jazz were also without reserve center Derrick Favors who missed the game with lower back soreness. Favors is listed as questionable against the Mavericks.
Mavericks Struggle Despite Healthy Roster
The Mavericks welcomed back forwards Josh Richardson, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Dwight Powell in Wednesday night’s loss.
Each player had missed at least eight games due to the NBA’s COVID-19 tracing protocol but did little to affect the outcome of the game.
Finney-Smith started but connected on just 1-8 field-goal attempts for three points in 24 minutes. Richardson fared slightly better, scoring six points on 3-7 shooting in his 24-minute return, while Powell went scoreless in 13 minutes off the bench.
Luka Doncic led the Mavericks with 30 points on an efficient 13-24 shooting night but had four turnovers to his six assists.
The key matchup between the two teams will pit Gobert against Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis.
Porzingis struggled in Wednesday’s meeting scoring 18 points on 8-18 shooting while grabbing five rebounds. The Latvian center is shooting just 29 percent from the three-point line, a career-low for the one-time sharpshooter.
Gobert meanwhile found repeated success attacking Porzingis in the pick and roll with guards Ingles and Mike Conley.
The All-NBA center connected on 11-20 field-goal attempts and 7-11 free-throws, while Conley dished out six assists.
The Jazz and Mavericks will close their two-game series on national TV. The game will tip-off at 8 pm MST and will be broadcast on ESPN.
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