Two franchises fighting for different things desperately needed to take care of their business Wednesday night in Utah. They did, even if it took awhile. The Mavericks were seeking a victory in a game they could not afford to lose if they are serious about the playoffs. The Jazz, for the good of the franchise, could not afford to win, since every loss it suffers in theory improves its draft prospects. For a rebuilding team, that has to override everything at this point in the season, even victories. In the end, both teams got what they wanted. It may not have been a thing of beauty, but it went into the W column for the Mavericks as they made enough plays late for a 108-101 victory over the Jazz at Energy Solutions Arena. They rode the hot hand of Dirk Nowitzki, who finished with 31 points. Monta Ellis chipped in 16 and 11 assists. In the fourth quarter, Ellis had seven points and four assists as the Mavericks essentially ran the same high pick-and-roll play every time down the floor. “Monta got to the rim a couple times,” Nowitzki said. “He’s fun to play with. He’s so good that any little mistake in their pick-and-roll coverage, he’s already at the rim. If they suck off of me, I hit a 3. Then they completely sucked off of Jose [Calderon], and he hit a big 3 that put us up six or seven. He [Ellis] has been spectacular for us in the fourth.” Calderon’s 3-pointer with 3:04 to go made it 101-93 and finished an 8-1 surge that won the game for the Mavericks, ending a three-game road losing streak. The Jazz, meanwhile, kept pace in its chase for the worst record in the Western Conference. Utah was tied with the Lakers and Kings coming into the game. The Mavericks were in no mood to apologize for the win. When Memphis pulled out a last-gasp victory against New Orleans, it meant the Mavericks needed a win to keep pace with the Grizzlies, against whom they are battling for the seventh playoff seed. Phoenix lurks behind ready to pass anybody who slips. Nowitzki had not been pleased with the way he was shooting the ball recently, especially Tuesday at Golden State when he was 4-of-11.
Almost perfect Nowitzki scores 31 to help Mavs top Jazz, keep No. 8 spot
Dallas Morning News | Mar 13