Mavericks Win Sixth-Straight Game Against Utah


79. Final. 93. 118. 102

The Dallas Mavericks won their sixth-consecutive game against a surging Utah Jazz team at American Airlines Center on Friday night.

The month of November didn’t start off so well for a Dallas Mavericks team that was still trying to find out what exactly it was. Losing three out of four games to begin the month had Dallas looking for answers instead of winning games.

At this point, the Mavericks are a simple loss to the New Orleans Pelicans from riding an eight-game winning streak – the team is happy enough with a six-game winning streak as Dallas is establishing its identity. It’s early, but if the season ended today, the Mavericks would be the third seed in the Western Conference Playoffs.

The Utah Jazz currently sit ranked seventh in the Western Conference, and if not for Friday night’s 102-93 loss to the Mavericks at American Airlines Center, that ranking could be as high as fifth.

The Jazz got off to a quick start against Dallas – similar to what the Boston Celtics did the game before – but were unable to sustain their early pace as the Mavericks heated up both offensively and defensively throughout the latter portion of the first half. Utah never had a lead as big as Boston did earlier this week, but even if they had then the Mavericks would likely have still taken charge.

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Point guard Deron Williams led the way for the Mavericks in all facets. His 23 points, eight assists and six rebounds were all season-highs – Williams also added three steals. Clearly, this Mavericks team is a different unit when Williams displays the type of control that he did against Utah.

The play of Dallas bigs Dirk Nowitzki, Zaza Pachulia and Dwight Powell has not gone unnoticed, but Friday night was a unique display.

Nowitzki was a perfect 3-for-3 from beyond the arc while chalking up 19 points on the night. The German Giant remains impossible to guard when set up for those epic fade-aways and his defense is actually showing up. Nowitzki had three blocked shots and a steal against Utah.

Pachulia was unbelievable. His seventh double-double of the season was accompanied by some incredible effort underneath the rim. At one point, Pachulia got a rebound, threw a bad pass but got that back, missed a shot, got another rebound and finally found guard Wesley Matthews under the rim for an easy, crowd-energizing layup. Anyone who thought that Pachulia was simply fools gold amid the loss of Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan last summer needs to re-think that idea entirely.

And if you thought, and rightly so, that the Rajon Rondo trade last year with the Boston Celtics was a disaster, remember that every storm cloud has a sliver lining – this obviously coming in the form of Powell. This youngster was a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line and also added four rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot en route to an 11-point night.

The Mavericks bench, as usual under head coach Rick Carlisle, is a strength this season, and was again against Utah. Dallas reserves scored 29 points and were a perfect 7-for-7 from the charity stripe.

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It’s still very early for this team, but what’s obvious already is that the Mavericks are deep and their also a team that’s actually on the rise. Time will tell how this group matches up against Western Conference powers like the San Antonio Spurs and the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors, but we already know that the Mavericks can beat those Clippers – with Jordan playing – and also the Houston Rockets without center Dwight Howard and point guard Patrick Beverly.

But can Houston beat Dallas with its starting back court?

Beginning on Sunday, Dallas faces arguably its first major conference test as the Mavericks will meet the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Memphis Grizzlies and the Spurs in a span of just 4 days – all on the road. Much will be learned through this brutal stretch that’s followed by another game against the Rockets at AAC and the first meeting with Eastern Conference third seed Atlanta Hawks later this month.

The Mavericks defense is drawing playful comparisons to the Detroit Pistons of the late 1980s, which is a bit of a stretch at this point. Still, you have to notice the way Dallas seems to adapt to their opponents recently in slowing things down after opening quarters that might have been a little bit leaky. This team gets better and more physical as games go on and limiting opponents in the paint has been key.

Next: Can Romo Run The Table

Perhaps that comparison to one of the NBA’s all-time great defensive teams decades ago might become a bit more appropriate once center JaVale McGee finally takes the court for the first time as a Dallas big man, something that could happen before 2016 begins.

  • Published on 11/21/2015 at 14:15 PM
  • Last updated at 11/21/2015 at 14:15 PM