SALT LAKE CITY — A sharpshooting Jazz fan, Derek Petersen, stepped into the spotlight and momentarily stole the show in Tuesday night's Utah-Dallas game when he drained a half-court shot to win $2,500.
Petersen, of South Jordan, might've received the biggest cheer of the night from Jazz fans who appreciated his impressive swish from almost 50 feet away during a second-quarter break from the more serious basketball action by those high-paid big guys.
Unfortunately for the Jazz, though, Petersen wasn't the only one who seemingly couldn't miss on this night.
After all, the Mavericks made almost everything they put up early on, hitting 17 of their first 18 shots from the field and opening up a double-digit lead late in the first quarter.
And though the Jazz did their darndest to stay within striking distance of this hot-shooting team from Texas, the Mavs eventually walked out of EnergySolutions Arena with a hard-earned 95-83 road victory.
"We were on fire shooting the ball the entire first half," said Dallas veteran Dirk Nowitzki, who scored a game-high 21 points on some slick 9-of-11 shooting to move into 10th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. "We couldn't really miss much."
That was especially true in the first quarter, when the Mavs made an amazing 16-of-17 shots from the field — an absolutely unconscious 94.1 level of accuracy that broke a franchise record that had stood for more than 23 years and the best mark by any NBA team since Indiana went 20-of-21 in November 2010 — to take a 39-25 lead.
"We came out and we gave up 39 points in the first quarter," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "I thought we played better after that first quarter. But give them a lot of credit, they shot the ball extremely well. They didn't seem like they were missing any shots in the first quarter."
Actually, coach, they weren't.
The Mavs then made their first shot in the second quarter for a blistering 17-of-18 start — and let's face it, most of us couldn't make 17 of 18 shots on an 8-foot hoop in our own driveway with nobody guarding us.
"It's very difficult to beat a team that shoots 94 percent in the first quarter," Utah rookie point guard Trey Burke said. "We can't allow that to happen and we did."
After that, though, Dallas shot a much more human 23-of-54 (42.6 percent) from the field. But by then, heck, the damage had already been done.
The Jazz played them on even terms after the opening period, as Utah was outscored by just a 42-40 margin over the second and third quarters combined.
But after that first-quarter blitz, the Mavs never led by less than 10 points until Utah got within nine, 92-83, on a 3-point play by Derrick Favors with 1:59 remaining to play.
For all practical purposes, this one was over long before that.
Dallas (48-31), after all, is fighting for a Western Conference playoff spot and Utah (24-54), of course, is not.
"It's a win we needed," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. " We had a great shooting night, which is always gonna help. We shored some things up. The rebounding wasn't good from start to finish.
"But they're one of the best, toughest, most physical rebounding teams, and we survived ’em, so we'll take the win and run.
"We're 79 games into this, and I can honestly say this — our work is still largely to be done," Carlisle said. "We've gotta win two more games to guarantee that we're in the playoffs, and the competition is getting tougher by the minute here. It's hard in buildings like this and Sacramento. Even though their records aren't good, these teams are tough matchups for us."
Monta Ellis had 16 points, Vince Carter 13, and Shawn Marion, Samual Dalembert and Jose Calderon 10 points apiece for Dallas, which beat Utah for the fifth straight time.
Favors scored 19 points for the Jazz, and Enes Kanter contributed 15 points and a season-high 19 rebounds. Richard Jefferson scored nine of his 15 points in the first quarter for Utah, which led early 13-6 before the Mavs found their groove.
Gordon Hayward was also in double digits for Utah with 11 points and Alec Burks added 10.
But this night belonged to Petersen — the $2,500 man — and Nowitzki, who passed Oscar Robertson for 10th place in NBA career scoring.
"It's unbelievable," Nowitzki said of reaching the milestone. "It kind of feels surreal still. All night, I was trying not to think about it. I was trying to concentrate on the next shot. I knew how many points I needed, but I wasn't trying to think about it.
"Like I always say, that stuff will mean more to me once my career is over, but this is a sweet one. Top 10 is definitely unbelievable. You want to say that you knew from day one what was going to happen, but that would be a lie."
His coach, Carlisle, was very complimentary of his smooth-shooting 7-foot star.
"This is my 30th year in the NBA and one of the few times I've truly been in awe of an accomplishment," he said. "(To become one of the) top 10 all-time scorers is an unbelievable accomplishment because it's a level of excellence that's beyond belief.4 comments on this story
"Then it's being able to do it over an extended period of time with consistency. (It's) one of the really unique accomplishments, and he's going to keep eating up more people (on the all-time scoring list). He's got a long way to go."
GAME NOTES: Jazz forward Marvin Williams started Tuesday's game and played almost eight minutes, but a bone bruise in his left knee sent him to the bench in the first quarter after missing a pair of 3-point attempts, and he did not return.