The Jazz’s “very high ball” dominates the Mavericks
Unsurprisingly, Luka Doncic hasn’t recovered from a sprained ankle, and Will Hardy is innovating with an impressive three-man front of Kelly Olynyk, Lauri Markkanen and Walker Kessler, 2m11 and taller, to challenge Spencer Dinwiddie’s squad.
A winning formula since the Jazz got off to their best start with Kessler on an alley-oop and Olynyk on a 3-pointer (12-8). On the contrary, Dinwiddie is already starting his “one man show”. It’s just him alone and the collective and wealth of the Jazz bench that makes the difference. Malik Beasley and Rudy Gay go 9-1, and Dallas now falls to -12 (27-15).
Then Collin Sexton comes on and we see how much Will Hardy can rely on different strikers and it’s a real contrast between the two combinations. In Dallas, Reggie Bullock keeps his nation from sinking 3-pointers, but the collective as well as physical strength is clearly in the Jazz camp. With every push, the dam threatens to blow, and that’s what happened late in the first half when Walker Kessler connected on dunks and Markkanen showed off his long-range drive. At halftime, Utah led by 18 points (66-48) after Malik Beasley’s final 3-pointer.
Jazz players sleeping with this host will let Dinwiddie run the show. No one can stop him in Utah. Even from too, too far and Dallas, without brilliance, runs to fall from 10 points down early in the final quarter (84-76). All Utah had to do was focus on Dinwiddie and the game would be over. Except the Mavericks held on and Bullock put his nation back down to -5 at the start of “money time” (103-98).
A catch is possible and it is Markkanen who is responsible for ending the pirates’ hopes. Behind, Dinwiddie misses the 3-pointer and Bullock loses the ball. Kessler makes free throws and the Jazz win 108-100. A feat that allowed them to find a balanced balance and get back on track with the Mavericks.
WHAT TO REMEMBER
– The beginning of jazz. 67% shooting, including 50% from 3-point range. Jazz is not far from a perfect start to the match with 34 points (8 assists) collected in collective actions. With elements like Kelly Olynyk and Lauri Markkanen, the “too high ball” isn’t heavy and static, and both bring space and movement around the amazing Walker Kessler.
– The Mavericks’ lack of forwards. Only Spencer Dinwiddie, not Luka Doncic, can win a one-on-one matchup. He does it very well, but he is very lonely. This is a big problem for the Mavericks because Tim Hardaway Jr., Reggie Bullock or even Dorian Finney-Smith and Davis Bertans are essentially shift or transition players. No one can make a difference on the dribble.
✅Lauri Markkanen. We don’t see how he missed the All-Star Game. He forces almost nothing, plays others and makes important baskets. What more…
✅Walker Kessler. If he keeps it up, he’ll make people forget about Rudy Gobert very quickly. Author of four counter-attacks in the first half, he is an old-fashioned pivot, well positioned and difficult to move. His partnership with Lauri Markkanen and Kelly Olynyk is interesting.
✅Spencer Dinwiddie. Against the Sun, he has little to be ashamed of. He’s proving that he can be the team’s first option, and no Jazz player has been able to contain him.
⛔Tim Hardaway Jr. 1 of 7 from 3-point range for the 3-point specialist. Weeks and months go by and he is still not back to his best. Reggie Bullock, who plays better defense and kicks, deserves a starting five.
Utah (26-26). A break until Tuesday and a Toronto reception.
Dallas (26-25). Receiving the Pistons on Monday.