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Associated Press
Utah Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin watches during the first half of the NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas, Saturday, March 3, 2012. The Mavericks won 102-96. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

There are reasons an NBA game is 48 minutes. After being down by as many as 23 points, the Utah Jazz fought back in the fourth quarter and pushed the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks to the very end. While Dallas snuck out with the 102-96 win, Utah certainly made it interesting down the stretch.

2011 Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki was definitely in MVP-form, finishing with 40 points. He shot a scintillating 14 of 21 from the field, most of them coming on long-range perimeter shots. Jason Terry added 22 points off the bench.

Paul Millsap led five Jazz players in double-figures, ending the game with 24 points.

Dr. Jekyll: The first half was a tough one for the Jazz. They shot 39 percent from the field, while being shut out from three-point territory (0-8). Utah had a mere five free throw attempts and recorded only nine bench points. On top of that, they had just five assists, along with six turnovers.

That said, the third quarter (and the start of the fourth) was worse. The Mavericks outscored the Jazz 31-19 in the third stanza, extending the Jazz deficit to 23 in the fourth. Along the way, Dallas was outshooting, outsmarting, and outplaying Utah.

Mr. Hyde: A totally different team came out in the fourth quarter. Behind tenacious defense and outright hustle, the same bench squad (Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, C.J. Miles, Earl Watson, and Alec Burks) that was so integral to the Miami victory quickly brought Utah back into the game. Favors was the ringleader, scoring eight points during a key 14-5 run. Paul Millsap was also stellar down the stretch, hitting some big shots and frustrating Nowitzki with some physical defense.

After a rocky start, Miles made some big shots down the stretch. Burks continues to impress, fearlessly taking the ball to the hoop and being extremely active defensively.

While the harried comeback fell short in the end, Utah put 41 points on the board in the quarter. The fight they exhibited was very encouraging.

Quick shots:

  • In a bizarre turn of events, Mavs forward Lamar Odom’s D-League assignment was nixed and he played against Utah, tallying nine points and five rebounds.
  • The 10-23 three-point shooting by Dallas turned the tide for the home team.
  • Utah only had one blocked shots — by their shortest player, Watson.
  • The Jazz only assisted on 13 of their 38 field goals — just 34 percent. They also had 14 turnovers.
  • In their first two match-ups, Jazz killer Rodrique Beaubois torched the Jazz for 39 points in 54 minutes. Saturday night, he had just three points in 20 minutes.

David Smith is providing instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage this season. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also blogs for the Utah Jazz 360 website. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.