SALT LAKE CITY — Ricky Rubio didn’t think he had anything to prove entering Saturday’s game. He knows who he is; his coach knows who he is and his teammates know the player he can be.
“I don’t think anyone here has to prove anything,” Rubio said. “We are a great team and play hard. You have good games, you have bad games — it is what it is.”
On Friday, Rubio had one of the bad games — turning it over eight times himself in a one-point loss in double-overtime to the Thunder.
On Saturday, he had one of the good ones.
Rubio responded from Friday’s performance by putting up 25 points and five assists to help a tired Utah team to a 125-109 win over Dallas Saturday at Vivint Arena.
“You can’t be playing perfect every night,” Rubio said. “You are gonna have mistakes and have to bounce back when you have a bad game.”
He did just that on Saturday.
“It’s the next play mentality,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said of the performance. “It’s no different than Ricky’s performance tonight if Ricky hit a game winner last night. It’s the next play. I think that’s who we need to be as a team. That’s who we need to be individually. Every game is different, you learn from every game. Whatever we can take from last night and help us make us better, that’s what we want to do.”
Rubio was efficient — going 8-of-14 from the field. He was aggressive — shooting 10 free throws on the night. And, maybe most important, he was smart with the ball — finishing with zero turnovers.
“Just a short memory,” Donovan Mitchell said of Rubio’s performance. “I think that’s the biggest thing. Obviously, we only lost by one yesterday and we all could have done things differently. … I think it’s not just him. We had some things to fix and we fixed it tonight.”
Rubio wasn’t alone in protecting the ball, either. The Jazz committed just seven turnovers against the Mavs — 17 less than they had on Friday.
That makes it a little easier to win games.
“The turnovers we had last night, we weren’t trying to make the right play on a lob pass to Rudy, they were things where we just were careless and those are the things that you have to eliminate,” Snyder said.
And for the most part, the Jazz eliminated them on Saturday against the Mavericks.
The Jazz used one of their trademark defensive performances to start the second half to gain some separation from the Mavericks. Utah didn’t allow Dallas to score for the first 4:35 of the third quarter and didn’t trail in the entire second half.
“It shows the heart of this team,” Rubio said. “We had a tough loss last night, we kept our composure tonight and played a good game.”
Mitchell scored 25 points on 8-of-14 shooting, Jae Crowder had 22 points off the bench and Joe Ingles finished with 18 points — which included three fourth-quarter 3-pointers that helped the Jazz halt a fourth-quarter Dallas rally.
Dirk Nowitzki, making his first start of the season in what might be his final game in Salt Lake City, played a season-high 25 minutes and scored 15 points.
Utah improved to 33-26 with the win.