SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s offense has slowly tapered off during its current three-game slide. The Jazz have been hampered by injuries, certainly, but as the season progresses the main concern is remaining energized and keeping tiring legs fresh.
“We’ve been shooting a lot of shots short, so that’s probably where we are at this time in the year,” Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said. “We’ve got to find a way to get some easy baskets and attack the rim a little bit more. We’re settling for a lot of jump shots; you see a lot more 3-pointers because it looks more attractive because it’s an easier shot to take.”
In recent losses to Golden State, the Los Angeles Clippers and Toronto, the Jazz (16-32) went 16 for 56 from beyond the arc and shot 41 percent from the floor.
“Staying confident in everything that you do and trusting the offense,” said point guard Trey Burke, who was named the NBA's rookie of the month for January, of what the Jazz need to do to get back on track offensively. “Everybody has been playing within the system, and as long as we continue to do that then we’ll be fine.”
Corbin explained the importance of staying focused and finishing strong in the Jazz's remaining four games (two home, two away) before the NBA's All-Star weekend Feb. 14-16.
“Especially with a young group, you get distracted by all the things you’re trying to plan for the All-Star break,” Corbin said. “Your body is beat up, but we have to play these games out. We can’t back into them. We got to make sure we play all the way out.”
The first opponent of the four is Dallas (29-21), which won the first meeting between the teams, 103-93, in late November. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at American Airlines Center Friday evening. The Mavericks currently hold a two-game lead for the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference and only trail Phoenix by a half-game.
“They’re a pretty well-rounded team,” said Burke, who struggled offensively with only five points against the Mavericks. “They have Dirk Nowitzki, so obviously we’ve got to try and stop him. They have guys that play really well around him, so we have to come in with a lot of intensity and throw the first punch.”
Nowitzki is in the midst of a five-game stretch of 20-plus points while averaging 29.8 points per game. During the streak he’s shooting 62 percent from the floor while averaging nine rebounds.
“He’s Dirk and he’s back on one of his runs,” Corbin said. “He played well again (Wednesday) night. (Dallas) is trying to find itself; I looked at some of the postgame interviews and they’re talking moving up and not settling for where they are. They’re a veteran team and they understand the big picture and what they’re playing to get ready for the last push of the season. It’s going to be a good challenge for us. We better be ready.”