SALT LAKE CITY — Wednesday's season-opener for the Utah Jazz against the Mavericks counted in the record books for the first time this year.
Despite a first half where defense seemed optional for Utah, the Jazz turned things around in the second half in all aspects to earn a 113-94 victory. It was a tale of two entirely different halves, but the Jazz end up 1-0 to begin the season.
GUARDS: It's difficult to give any part of the team a great grade with this game considering how atrocious defense was in the first half, but the second half displayed an entirely different Jazz club and it began with the guards. Mo Williams dropped 21 points on 7-of-16 shooting, which included a stretch where the veteran guard accounted for eight straight points. Gordon Hayward had a quiet 11-point performance, but Randy Foye made up for it off the bench as he added 13 points and 2-of-4 shooting from 3-point range. Both Williams and Foye turned on the 3-point shooting in the third quarter when the Jazz outscored Dallas 37-13. GRADE: B+.
FORWARDS: The forwards played well as long as they didn't settle for jump shots early in the shot clock. Rebounding was outstanding as usual and Paul Millsap along with Derrick Favors combined for 25 rebounds. Millsap grabbed 15 boards, eight of which were offensive, and Favors pulled down 10. The Jazz outrebounded the Mavericks 61-40 overall. Marvin WIlliams played a solid night as he scored 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting, and 10 of those points came in the first nine minutes of the game. GRADE: B+.
CENTERS: Once the Jazz picked up the defense, the Jazz bigmen really clogged up the lane and wreaked havoc against any attempt by Dallas to make a shot in the paint. Al Jefferson put up a double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds while Enes Kanter put up six points and grabbed seven boards in 14 minutes of play. Kanter showed moments of brilliance during his 14 minutes and probably could have done more damage on both ends of the floor if he was given the chance. GRADE: B+.
BENCH: The depth of the Jazz proved to be a strength once again as Utah didn't miss a beat during its offensive onslaught in the second half. Although the Maverick bench outscored its Utah counterpart, the Jazz's second line kept Utah in the game toward the end of the first half when Dallas went on an offensive tear and kept an onslaught going in the second half when it went back into the game. Mo Williams, who is the obvious go-to leader this season, got into early foul trouble and Jamaal Tinsley along with Foye picked up the slack. GRADE: A-.
OVERALL: After shaking off the rust and jitters of the first-regular season game and home-opener, the Jazz used a huge third quarter and second half to make a close game look like a blowout. Dallas was without Dirk Nowitzki and on the back end of a back-to-back, but the Mavs gave the Jazz all they could handle. The most impressive aspect of this game may be the fact the Jazz bounced back from adversity and completely owned the second half. The second most-impressive thing would be the Jazz limiting Dallas to 31 second-half points on route to the 19-point victory. GRADE: B+.