DALLAS — The Utah Jazz’s draft pick is starting to look better by the game.
The same can’t be said of the Jazz.
Resembling the squad that stumbled to a 1-14 start to the season, the lifeless Jazz struggled and staggered through a 103-81 defeat to the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night at American Airlines Center.
The loss was the fourth in a row for Utah, which hadn’t lost that many in a row since a four-game slide from Dec. 4-9.
The way the Jazz lost was more disappointing than the fact that this team came up short for the 33rd time in 49 games this season. Utah has slipped back into last place in the Western Conference and owns the fourth-worst record (16-33) in the NBA after a relatively strong six-week stretch.
“I thought they were the aggressive team. They had the most energy. Give them credit. They executed better than we did,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said.
“One thing we can’t afford to do against anybody right now where we are as a team, we can’t have guys outwork us, and I thought they outworked us tonight.”
And the Mavericks outdid the Jazz just about everywhere on the court.
Dallas owned the paint, outscoring the Jazz 38-18 despite the fact that Utah got starting center Derrick Favors back after his three-game absence. Flustered inside, the Jazz put up a franchise-record 35 3-point attempts as they couldn't find space to maneuver down low.
Dallas dominated the boards, outrebounding the Jazz 48-37 overall and 11-6 on the offensive glass.
Dallas also outshot Utah (46.9 percent to 40.8 percent), outassisted the Jazz (24-22) and outscored the visitors 49-38 in the second half while winning its fourth consecutive game.
“These are the kind of games you have to win,” Dallas guard Jose Calderon said. “I think everybody had that in our minds before we started the game and we came ready to play.”
Dallas managed to neutralize the only advantage the Jazz had on this night — a hot-shooting Marvin Williams — in a one-sided second half.
Williams looked like he was hoping to be invited as a late entry to the 3-point shooting contest in the first half, hitting his first four attempts beyond the arc while scoring 14 points in the first quarter.
The Jazz even held a 21-17 lead thanks to Williams’ hot hand before the stretch-four player was subbed out for Jeremy Evans with just less than five minutes remaining in the first quarter.
“It was a rotation for him. He was going pretty good,” Corbin said. “We were trying to monitor (him) and make sure that we do the best thing by him. When we sub, we’ve got to be able to keep the energy up and we lost our little flow there.”
Williams returned to score seven more points in the second quarter, going into the locker room with 21 points after netting a season-high 23 in Monday’s loss to Toronto.
“I just wanted to come out and be aggressive defensively,” Williams said when asked about his offensive game. “My mind was actually defensively tonight. I just got some open looks offensively. “
Williams didn’t in the second half, though. The Mavericks, who used a 17-3 run to seize control of the game in the first half, switched between a man-to-man defense and a zone, effectively taking Williams’ open looks away while clogging the paint against Favors and the Jazz bigs.
Williams only attempted two shots (both misses) in the entire second half after going 8 for 13 from the field and 5 for 7 from 3-point range before the break.
Nobody else from the Jazz picked up the slack, either. Point guard Trey Burke had 13 points on 5-of-15 shooting and Richard Jefferson contributed 10 points, but that was about it for the offense. No other Utah player had double figures as the Jazz scored 90 or fewer for the fourth game in a row.
“They did a good job of keeping us out to the paint. We’ve just got to adjust to it if another team does that to us,” Favors said. “They just went to a zone, took away the post plays, did a good job rebounding."
And the Jazz didn’t. The fact that shooting guard Alec Burks led Utah in rebounding with seven boards is an indicator of that.
"We can do a lot better," Favors admitted.
“I think they just made more plays than we did. They might have played a little harder than we did tonight,” Williams said. “Every loose ball they got to it. They got to way more offensive rebounds than we got to. And it seemed like every time they make a play like that, they always scored off of it.”
Adding to the bad news, the Jazz's opponent Saturday, two-time defending champion Miami, was in Utah on Friday while they were floundering in Texas.
"It doesn't get any easier," Williams said.
NOTES: Favors finished with six points, six rebounds, three blocked shots and four turnovers in his first game after missing three with hip inflammation. "I felt good. I was a little rusty... but overall it didn’t hurt me." ... Guard Monta Ellis scored 22 points before leaving with a leg injury and power forward Dirk Nowitzki added 20, the sixth game in a row the 35-year-old All-Star has hit the 20-point mark. ... Utah only scored 14 points in the fourth quarter.
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