The Dallas Mavericks squandered a 25-point first-half lead before Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry saved them down the stretch. Nowitzki had 31 points and 15 rebounds, and he combined with Terry for Dallas' final 21 points as the Mavericks extended their winning streak to 12 games with a 103-97 victory over the Utah Jazz on Saturday night.
The Mavericks raced to a 29-4 lead midway through the first quarter, then had to rally down the stretch behind Terry's 12 fourth-quarter points and Nowitzki's nine. "They slowly chipped away and chipped away and finally tied the game there in the fourth, and we had to really dig deep, grind it out and get some stops," Nowitzki said. "(Terry) got hot at the right moment which really helped, and made shots for us down the stretch. ... We definitely made it harder on ourselves than we should have."
Nowitzki went 10 for 12 from the floor. "He's on a great run," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "You're not going to shoot 10 for 12 every night, but a guy of his skill level is capable of it." DeShawn Stevenson added a season-high 17 points, going 5 of 7 from 3-point range, and Caron Butler had 16 points for Dallas. The Mavericks put on a long-range shooting clinic, hitting 14 of 26 from beyond the arc to prevail in a matchup of Western Conference heavyweights.
Dallas-area native Deron Williams scored 19 of his 34 points in the first half and paced the Jazz, who had won nine of 11. Paul Millsap added 16 points and Ronnie Price scored 14 for Utah. Dallas made 13 of 18 field goal attempts in the opening quarter, going 7 for 10 from 3-point range, and the Mavericks went on to stretch the NBA's longest current winning streak. The Mavericks (19-4) are off to their best start since 2002-03 and the second-best in team history.
The Jazz tied it at 89 with 4:31 left on Williams' three-point play, and Utah was within 96-95 with 2:40 remaining on Price's 3-pointer. But Nowitzki drove for a layup, was fouled and converted the three-point play for a 99-95 lead with 2:19 left. Al Jefferson's follow shot with 29.9 seconds left got the Jazz within 99-97. But Nowitzki drew a double-team and passed to Terry for a 3-pointer from the right corner with 7.6 seconds remaining to extend Dallas' lead to 102-97.
"I told Dirk that I'm in the corner and I'm ready," Terry said. "Dirk did a great job drawing the defense. The passer makes the shooter." The Jazz beat Orlando on the road Friday night, and the players didn't get into their hotel rooms in Dallas until early Saturday morning. The fatigue showed early as Dallas bolted to a 16-2 start capped by five consecutive 3 pointers, two by Nowitzki, two from Stevenson and one by Butler. When the Mavs extended their lead to 21-2 on Tyson Chandler's alley-oop dunk with 5:58 left in the first quarter, Utah coach Jerry Sloan used a second timeout during the run to settle down his team.
"It looked like we weren't interested," Sloan said. "I hate to say that, but I have to be honest about it. I think you have to be interested in wanting to win and not looking for excuses to be tired or whatever the case may be." The Mavericks went on to their 25-point advantage on Butler's 3-pointer before the Jazz finally got untracked, finishing the quarter with a 15-5 spurt. "We moved the ball great and we got stops," Carlisle said of his team's fast start. "It was kind of a magical 6 or 8 minutes." The Mavericks, who beat the Jazz for the 13th time in their last 15 meetings in Dallas, held Utah to 44 percent shooting from the field (36 for 81).
"This is the best Mavs team I've seen since I've been in the NBA," Williams said. "Across the board, they have so much talent and depth. But they're just playing a lot better defensively. This is by far the best defensive team we've seen from them."