'I feel disappointed': Jazz no match, again, for shorthanded Mavericks

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SALT LAKE CITY — There was a lot of talk about the not-so-distant future before Monday's game. The Dallas Mavericks had just finalized a trade for controversial star Kyrie Irving for two key rotation players in Dorian Finney-Smith and Spencer Dinwiddie.

"We feel that the talent and his abilities to make us better are something that we needed, so we feel that getting him is going to help put us in position to win a championship," Dallas coach Jason Kidd said before the game.

With the backcourt of Luka Doncic and Irving, the Mavericks can indeed dream of a title run.

That's in the near future, but neither of the two All-Star players were in Utah on Monday to play the Jazz. Doncic was out with a heel injury, and Irving will join the Mavericks on Wednesday. So it was an easy night for the Jazz, right? Not exactly.

With their best players away from the team, Dallas still beat Utah 124-111 on Monday at Vivint Arena.

A shorthanded Mavs team, once again, topped the Jazz, which surely brought back some memories of last season's playoff failures. At this point, Doncic might just choose to sit out against the Jazz going forward; it appears to make little difference.

Jazz coach Will Hardy can usually see the good in defeats, and he can pick out the silver linings or moral victories. There was none on Monday

"This is the first game all season where I feel disappointed in our focus," Hardy said. "There's always nights where the bounces don't go your way — you don't make shots, the other team plays great, and there's a little bit of that in tonight's game — but I felt like, collectively, we just did not have the necessary focus and attention to the little things."

Dallas had 27 fast-break points to Utah's 4 — and it felt worse than that. The Mavericks had 17 offensive rebounds and 24 second-chance points. That, Hardy said, was the game right there. Sure, the 3-point variance played a part in Dallas' win (the Mavericks were 15-of-39 from 3-point range; the Jazz were 6-of-31), but that wasn't what stuck out to Hardy or the team

"I think there were a lot of possessions where they got an offensive rebound with the balls bouncing at the free-throw line and nobody's really making an effort to get to it," Mike Conley said. "That's not who we've been all season, and whatever reason our minds wandered a little bit on that aspect of the game."

The Jazz got caught ball watching on rebounds and watching in transition. Combine that with a poor shooting night and the final result wasn't much of a surprise

"They played better than us. They played harder than us, and so give credit to them, but I don't think we were ready to play," said Lauri Markkanen, who had his streak of 20 or more points game snapped at 20; he scored 19 points on Monday.

It appeared, though, that the Jazz were ready to play early. Utah jumped out to a 15-point lead in the first quarter, but by the second quarter, it was all tied up; and in the third quarter, Dallas took a 9-point lead.

"I thought in the second quarter, even though we ended up at the end of the half up by 2, they clearly sort of took the momentum of the game and the game of being played at their pace," Hardy said.

The Jazz recovered a bit — and even took a short-lived lead in the fourth quarter — but Dallas went on a 17-5 run in the closing minutes to pull away for good. What made things worse? Hardy even saw it coming.

"We know from our own experience that the guys that get to step into those opportunities that night really relish that," he said before the game. "It's an opportunity for them to show what they can do and maybe try to prove to their coaching staff or the rest of the league they should be getting more opportunity, and so that can be a very dangerous thing."

Case in point: Josh Green. The third-year pro, who averages 8.1 points this season, lit up the Jazz for 29 points on 10-for-17 shooting, and clearly enjoyed having more of a lead role in the offense.

The career-high performance left the Mavs in jubilation ... and the Jazz in disappointment.

"It was kind of a bad game," said Jordan Clarkson said, who had 26 points.

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