The Jazz ran up against a buzz saw on Monday night when the Dallas Mavericks visited Salt Lake for the final home game of the 2015-16 regular season. The Jazz fell 101-92, all but sealing their playoff fate. Technically the Jazz could still sneak into the playoffs, but they’ll now need help from the Houston Rockets. The Jazz will play in LA on Wednesday night in Kobe Bryant’s final game. By the time the Jazz play, they will more than likely know whether or not the game will have any real significance for them. Houston and Sacramento will tip off from the Toyota Center at 6:00pm mountain time. The Jazz will take on the Lakers at 8:30. If Houston loses, the Jazz just need to beat the Lakers to secure a spot in the playoffs.
The Jazz could have controlled their own destiny if they had taken care of business against Dallas. In fact, a win would have given them a good shot at the sixth seed. Instead, Dallas clinched a playoff berth and put the Jazz on the outside looking in.
Dallas got off to a good start. The Mavericks led through much of the first quarter. The Jazz were able to get a little run going at the end of the first to keep themselves in the game. Joe Ingles hit a three with seven seconds left in the first to get the Jazz to within two. It was 22-20 at the end of one.
The Mavericks got off to a good start again in the second as well. Dallas seemed to have an answer every time the Jazz went on a little run. The Jazz fought hard to stay close and give themselves a chance. Utah put on a good run to close the first half, bringing the score to within four. At halftime it was 50-46 for the Mavs.
Deron Williams looked like his old self. He scored 18 first half points on 8-12 shooting. Dirk Nowitzki finished the first half with 12 points and eight rebounds. Dallas had their star players going and the Jazz didn’t have an answer for them. It didn’t help that Rudy Gobert went out with a sprained ankle halfway through the second quarter. Gordon Hayward led the Jazz with 12 points at the break, followed by Shelvin Mack who had seven points going into halftime.
The Jazz found themselves down by double digits early in the second half. Dallas kept hitting big shots to keep the Jazz on their heels. The effect of Dallas’ hot start was compounded by the fact that the Jazz couldn’t hit an outside shot for anything. The Jazz went 0-9 from beyond the arc in the third quarter. The closest they came to taking the lead was with just under two minutes left in the third. Favors stole the ball from Pachulia with the Jazz down 66-64. Hayward pulled up for a wide-open three in transition, and couldn’t convert. Raymond Felton hit a three on the next possession to end Utah’s run.
The Jazz stayed in it throughout the fourth but Dallas was just too good. The Mavericks showed their experience by converting in crucial moments down the stretch. The Jazz fought until the end, but they just didn’t have enough. The final score was 101-92.
Gordon Hayward led all scorers with 26 points. Hayward also finished with six rebounds and four assists. He also went 1-9 from three, which really hurt the Jazz. Williams led the Mavs with 23 points, six assists, and four rebounds. It was a vintage performance from the former Jazz point guard. Dirk had a double double, totaling 23 points and 11 rebounds.
It hurts for everyone involved with the Jazz to lose this game. The Jazz dropped four out of their last five home games, and now need to hope that the Rockets can lose on their home floor against a Kings team that is 33-48. The Jazz controlled their own destiny right up to the final game of the season. It will be a somber atmosphere for the Jazz over the next couple of days. However, if the Rockets somehow lose, Wednesday night’s game against the Lakers could be a lot of fun.