Utah Jazz shuffle lineup to find anything that will work
DALLAS — In an effort to find something that would work — anything — Jerry Sloan used a wide variety of lineups against the Dallas Mavericks.
Heck, if the kitchen sink had been suited up in a Utah Jazz uniform, the Hall of Fame coach might have thrown that in, too.
It couldn't have struggled more on defense than the Jazz did to start off their 103-97 loss to the red-hot Mavericks, who jumped out to an early 25-point lead.
Because of an injury to Raja Bell (strained groin), Gordon Hayward got his second start in a row after not playing in two consecutive games.
Turned out, the rookie played fewer minutes (11:23) than any of the 10 healthy players who dressed.
"I tried to substitute different guys and move guys in and out an little bit," Sloan said, "to see if we could get something going."
Ronnie Price played a season-high 28 minutes and scored a season-best 14 points, including a couple of key 3-pointers late on that nearly gave the Jazz a chance to pull off one of their craziest comebacks all year.
With Bell out, Price ended up playing all 12 minutes in the final quarter.
Backup big man Francisco Elson, who logged 17 minutes, also played a pivotal role in Utah's rally with his defense against Dirk Nowitzki. The Jazz were doing so well with Elson on the court, in fact, that starting center Al Jefferson didn't make his first appearance in the final period until 2:19 remained in a four-point game. When Elson subbed in for Big Al late in the third quarter, the Mavericks were ahead 75-60.
"When you make shots everybody helps you," Sloan said of his reserves. "Ronnie made a couple of shots. Fran was trying to guard Nowitzki. We don't have anybody who can really go out and stop the guy. Nobody does."
C.J. Miles (28 minutes), Earl Watson (14 minutes) and Jeremy Evans (13 minutes) all played longer than usual in the tough back-to-back situation for the Jazz.
STILL OUT: Center Kyrylo Fesenko missed his third straight game with a sprained left ankle, leaving the Jazz with only 10 healthy players on the roster against the deep Mavericks.
Both Bell and Fesenko traveled with the Jazz and received pregame treatment for their injuries.
STREAK SNAPPED: While Dallas improved its winning streak to 12 games, the Jazz's road streak came to an end. Utah had won six consecutive contests away from Utah.
All six of those games included rallies from double-digit deficits as well.
The Jazz hadn't lost on the road since falling to Golden State, 85-78, on Nov. 5.
"At the beginning it was working. We come back from a big deficit and then try to win the game," Elson said. "But now teams are just picking us apart, because we're tired out there. We're down so deep and we just can't seem to finish it off. We just need to start from the beginning and not give away the way easy stuff."
MILITARY NIGHT: Front-row season-tickets holders donated their usual prime spots at AmericanAirlines Center to current and former U.S. military personnel as part of the Mavericks' seventh-annual "Seats for Soldiers" tribute.
The seats donated to the 150 wounded warriors, who got to meet members of both teams after the game, were valued at more than $235,000.
Arena fans gave military personnel a standing ovation after Dallas guard Jason Terry thanked them for their service on the video screen and enthusiastically told them, "Tonight's all about you."
An attending member of Jazz management even offered to buy all 150 soldiers drinks.
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