DALLAS — For some Jazz fans, Utah's late rally in Dallas may have been as exciting as perhaps Florida Gulf Coast's current Sweet Sixteen run. Ultimately, that hope morphed into a familiar lull as the Jazz (34-36) dropped their ninth loss in the past 11 games and fourth in a row, a 113-108 decision against the Mavericks (34-36). They are now tied for ninth in the Western Conference standings.
Guards: Mo Williams (10 points, eight assists) was led by Dallas' Mike James (19 points on 7-of-10 shooting, 32 minutes). The 11th-year pro has averaged just 5.6 points in only 16.8 minutes this season. (At least James went scoreless in his final six minutes.)
That matchup made the difference in this category, given that Randy Foye (12 points, 3-of-6 3-point shooting) edged Mavericks' O.J. Mayo (10 points on 4-of-7 shooting) in playing nine less minutes. Foye has made at least half of his field goals in three of his past four games after making 36 percent or less in seven straight. GRADE: C
Forwards: Applaud Paul Millsap (15 points, nine rebounds, two blocks) and Gordon Hayward (13 points on 5-of-9 shooting, five assists) for almost keeping up with Dirk Nowitzki (17 points, six rebounds) and Shawn Marion (15 points, six rebounds, three steals). Hayward truly is rolling, scoring 17-plus points in five of the past six contests entering Sunday. The swingman has also shot a slick 50 percent in those five games. GRADE: C
Centers: Al Jefferson (15 points on 6-of-12 shooting, but only three rebounds) was better offensively Sunday evening than in San Antonio the previous day, yet he saw 15 less minutes — another oddity that can be chalked up to coach Tyrone Corbin. Perhaps that was mostly due to the excellent play of Enes Kanter (17 points on 7-of-9 shooting), however. The Turk's 21 minutes did result in three turnovers but made for his most time on the court in five games. Corbin once again showed a dubious rotation pattern in giving Kanter more than three times as much PT as he did the previous day.
Ultimately, the two would have deserved an overwhelmingly high grade since Dallas starting center Brandan Wright (3-of-11 shooting) struggled. But 14th-year veteran Elton Brand had a field day, earning 10 points on a perfect 5-of-5 outing in just 18 minutes. GRADE: C+
Bench: Derrick Favors undid most of the good he did in 16 minutes with five turnovers, though the Utah reserves outscored the Dallas bench 53-45.
After two excellent outings in the past three (a significant stretch for him this season), the ever-inconsistent Marvin Williams appeared to be a non-factor (he shot 1-of-6) in 23 minutes, again leaving viewers to wonder why Corbin would leave a struggling player on the floor that long.
Kanter certainly was the highlight for the Jazz's side as Brand and Vince Carter (15 points, 8-of-8 free-throw shooting), two former stars much past their prime, taught young Jazzmen like Favors and Alec Burks a couple of old tricks.
And the epitome of scratching-your-head-at-Corbin was DeMarre Carroll. He played for the first time in five games Sunday. By no means was he mind-blowing in four minutes. But his recent story remains strange given that he has been absent after playing 14-plus minutes in nine straight games, five of which were average and three of which were excellent. GRADE: B-Comment on this story
Overall: Credit Utah for gnawing at a 20-point deficit halfway through the fourth quarter to cut it to five with 13 seconds remaining. But the Jazz had to do so because of an eight-minute collapse to end the third and fourth quarters. Otherwise, they were in rhythm in their Texas two-step with Dallas.
Corbin should continue to feel the heat given that he remains unanswered with a resolute lineup. GRADE: C
Rhett Wilkinson studies interesting stuff at Utah State University. Co-founder of Aggie BluePrint (USU's first student magazine) and a two-time Deseret News intern, he now interns for Deseret Book's LDS Living. firstname.lastname@example.org or @wilklogan