UTAH JAZZ

Jazz Vanquish Demons In Crucial Win Over Mavericks

Apr 23, 2022, 7:07 PM
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell grabs the ball over Dallas Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith U...
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell grabs the ball over Dallas Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) grabs a rebound as he and Dallas Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith (10) battle as the Utah Jazz and the Dallas Mavericks play game four at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 23, 2022. Utah won 100-99. (Photo: Deseret News/Scott G Winterton)
(Photo: Deseret News/Scott G Winterton)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz exorcised a swarm of demons in their series-evening victory over the Dallas Mavericks in Game 4.

The Jazz withstood a number of Mavericks haymakers throughout the second half to avoid another blown double-digit lead and send the opening-round series back to Dallas riding a 100-99 victory.

Jordan Clarkson and Donovan Mitchell combined to score 48 points for the Jazz as Luka Doncic returned to the series with a 30 point, 10 rebound performance for Dallas.

Jazz Fix Regular Season Faults Vs. Dallas

Go back and dig up the most common issues that plagued the Jazz throughout the regular season, and they had an answer for seemingly every one of them in their series-saving victory.

Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert aren’t getting along?

Cue Mitchell hitting Gobert for the game-winning alley-oop with 11 seconds left to play, a play the Jazz have struggled to convert in the fourth quarter all season.

“He made the right play with the lob,” Gobert said, “I just had to finish it.”

Donovan Mitchell can’t score in the fourth quarter?

The guard scored five of the Jazz’s final seven points of the game when it mattered most to outpace the Mavericks.

“I know what I’m capable of,” Mitchell said of his late-game scoring. “My teammates and my coaches trust me.”

Quin Snyder can’t make adjustments?

The Jazz coach switched Bojan Bogdanovic onto the Jalen Brunson to open the game, throwing size onto the Mavericks’ previously unstoppable guard and limiting him to 23 points on 7-18 shooting, 13 points below his average over the last two games.

“The first few games we had a hard time keeping the ball out of the paint,” Snyder said. “We felt like size could help.”

The Jazz can’t hold onto big leads?

The Jazz gave up a 16-point first-half lead but bounced back from a five point deficit midway through the fourth quarter to earn their most important win of the season.

“We’re going out there and executing,” Mitchell said. “I think that’s what the playoffs are, just find a way.”

The Jazz aren’t closers?

After a dagger three from Doncic with 39 seconds left to play, the Jazz outscored Dallas 5-0 to close the game with a 100-99 victory.

“The crowd was different,” Bogdanovic said, “they gave us the energy, they really supported us in those bad moments.”

Throughout the season the Jazz have preached that despite their many struggles, they believed they could turn this season around. While they have a long ways to go to reach the promised land, this type of knock-down, drag-out performance is exactly what they needed to wash the toxic taste out of their mouth.

How Doncic Changes Mavericks

Make no mistake, the Mavericks ceiling without Luka Doncic on the floor is far lower than when he’s in uniform, but it was undeniable that the Jazz had an easier night with the superstar back after missing the first three games of the series.

Doncic proved his value throughout the game, leading the Mavericks in scoring, rebounds, assist, and steals, just as he has throughout the entire season.

Yet, his ball dominance allowed the Jazz defense to limit the Mavericks’ dribble penetration that doomed them in Games 2 and 3 and gave them an unreliable defender to attack in the fourth quarter.

The Mavericks outscored the Jazz by seven with Doncic on the floor, but his presence appeared to take Dallas’s stellar role players out of their rhythm who had steamrolled the Jazz in the previous eight quarters.

Spencer Dinwiddie was hurt the most in Game 4, scoring just five points on 2-9 shooting after averaging 19.7 points per game as a starter in the first three games of the series.

Maxi Kleber fell back to earth knocking down 1-4 three-point attempts in 18 minutes after averaging 21 points while shooting 75 percent from the three-point line over the last two games.

With Doncic back on the floor, Jason Kidd relied more heavily on Dwight Powell who is a superior pick and roll player, but his presence in the paint allowed Jazz defenders to swarm the Mavericks guards when they drove to the rim.

Powell had 11 points on 3-3 shooting, his best performance of the series, but a far cry from the production Dallas got from Kleber earlier in the series.

The Mavericks also turned the ball over 11 times in Game 4, matching their total from Games 2 and 3, four of which came from Doncic. The superstar guard was the NBA’s fifth-leading assist man this season but leads the league in turnovers, and it hurt the Mavericks in Game 4.

Dallas needs Doncic as the playoffs progress to reach their full potential, but his presence changed the dynamic of the series, and the Jazz took advantage.

Series Shifts To Dallas

In the chess game that is the NBA playoffs, the pressure now shifts back onto the Mavericks who face a must-win Game 5 or risk returning to Utah in a close-out situation.

Dallas deserves credit for their stellar performances in Games 2 and 3, but the Jazz are only a handful of possessions in Game 2 from owning a 3-1 series lead with three opportunities to advance to the second round.

With Doncic back, and two of the three remaining games set to be played in Dallas, the Mavericks have a significant advantage, but the Jazz’s chances to win this now best-of-three series feel significantly improved from where they were after Game 3.

“One game at a time,” Gobert said as the series heads to Dallas. “We’ve got to focus on Game 5, and go there and try to get a win.”

Momentum is a funny thing in the NBA, and for most of the season, the Jazz have struggled to maintain it. But with the talent on this roster, coming off their best win of the year, Game 5 should more closely resemble what the fans expected to see from this team before the season began.

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