SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz nearly knocked off the defending champions, but couldn't make enough clutch plays or shots down the stretch in a 94-91 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night.
The Jazz grades are a mixed bag, as play ranged from above average (Gordon Hayward, C.J. Miles) to average (Paul Millsap) to lousy (Devin Harris) to feisty (Derrick Favors and Earl Watson), if that can be classified as a rating.
GUARDS: During the game, Jazz fans may have wondered if they could start a petition to get Devin Harris out of the starting lineup. He got pulled from the game less than eight minutes into it when he was 0-for-4 from the field. It never got any better, as he finished 0-for-7, scoring one point with two assists in 23 minutes. His last miss, with the Jazz trailing 92-88, ended any hopes of winning. Raja Bell shot 2-for-6 and scored seven points in 26 minutes. His most notable moment came when he got into it with Lamar Odom. It's good to have a player like Bell, who backs down from no one. But the Jazz could have used more production from him. Grade: D
FORWARDS: Millsap started slowly, but helped keep Utah in the game in the fourth quarter. He played all 12 minutes of the fourth and contributed eight of his 16 points and four of his 13 rebounds in the period. Gordon Hayward also started slowly, but nearly won the game in the fourth with an Ed Reed-like one-handed interception that led to a Millsap layup. He also had a dunk after a steal by Harris that tied the game at 87-87. The Jazz will be tough to beat when Hayward plays like that consistently. Grade: B+
CENTERS: Al Jefferson led the Jazz with 22 points, but he made a couple of costly errors in the fourth quarter. He missed a rushed jumper with Utah trailing 90-87. Then, with the Jazz behind 92-87 he made just one of two free throws. Overall, he did outplay his Dallas counterpart, Brendan Haywood, who had six points and five rebounds. Grade: B
BENCH: C.J. Miles had another solid game, making it three out of the last four games where he's made meaningful contributions. He had 17 points, and he dunked on Reality TV star Lamar Odom. Rookie Alec Burks had 10 points. Earl Watson got a technical and Derrick Favors got two technicals and an ejection. The Jazz bench was outscored by Dallas' 44-36 and had no answer for Rodrigue Beaubois, who had 17 points in 18 minutes. Grade: C
COACHING: Tyrone Corbin was gutsy in starting the fourth quarter with Burks, Enes Kanter, Miles, Millsap and Watson. They five did OK, getting the Jazz out to a 75-72 lead, but he probably stuck with them too long. Dallas went on an 8-0 run before Jefferson was subbed for Kanter. You also can't help but wonder if the team is better off with Watson in the starting lineup. He brings a lot of energy off the bench, but Harris just isn't working out for the most part. Grade: C+
OVERALL: It seemed like a good spot for the Jazz to beat Dallas after the Mavericks were coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Clippers and playing a back-to-back. But Dallas was in control for most of the game. The Mavericks shot the ball better than the Jazz and played better defense. The Jazz also had some trouble with keeping their composure. It was just a frustrating night for Utah, which didn't get calls from the refs or bounces from the rims. At least the Jazz get another shot at the champs next week. Grade B-