1 of 46
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) reacts after hitting a three point shot as the Utah Jazz and the Dallas Mavericks play Monday, April 16, 2012 in Salt Lake City.

EnergySolutions Arena was the setting for one of the NBA’s wildest, longest, most dramatic games of the season. In a triple-overtime thriller that featured buzzer beaters, heroes for both teams and one of the most bizarre moments in recent league history, the Utah Jazz came away victors over the Dallas Mavericks, 123-121.

An NBA first: In the annals of recorded NBA lore, it is doubtful that a player has ever put his finger in an opponent’s ear during a dead ball. Well, that changed Monday night.

In the second quarter, Mavs guard Delonte West did just that, angrily poking a digit into Gordon Hayward’s ear. The former had fouled the latter, and as the whistle was called, West waltzed over, taunting the Utah Jazz sophomore. Before anyone knew it, he put his finger in Hayward’s ear.

He was given a technical and while Hayward missed the free throw, it was the Jazz guard who had the last laugh. Hayward’s 24 points, five assists and four rebounds were seemingly spurred on by the disrespectful action by West.

Who’s who among heroes: Where does one start? For the home team, Al Jefferson had perhaps his best game as a Jazzman. He was monstrous, with 28 points and 26 rebounds, the latter tying a career high. He made numerous clutch shots and snared key boards.

Paul Millsap endured a horrible shooting night to make the baskets when they were most needed. The rugged Jazz forward shot just 5-18 from the floor, but one of those makes was the put-back slam dunk at the end of regulation that sent the game into the first overtime period. He followed that up with big plays offensively and defensively against Dallas superstar Dirk Nowitzki. Millsap had 16 points, nine rebounds and six assists.

Devin Harris set the tone for the game with yet another quick start en route to 23 points and seven assists. He pushed the pace, shot sharply and made things happen.

Lastly, Dallas probably did not expect a guy the Jazz picked up midseason in a low-profile signing to be playing an integral role in a very momentous game. DeMarre Carroll overcame a recent concussion, along with a root canal, to have his best NBA game to date. With 15 points, six assists and four rebounds, the third-year pro displayed hustle, tenacity and sheer effort all night.

Dallas was led by none other than Nowitzki with 40 points, while super reserve Jason Terry had 27.

Bombs away: One team came into the game ranked dead last in 3-pointers per game and 29th in 3-point field goal percentage. The other was sixth in treys made and fourth in attempts. Together, the Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks combined to drain a combined 26-62, many coming at clutch junctures.

Devin Harris led the triple charge, hitting a game-high 5-12 from downtown against the team that drafted him. Backcourt partner Gordon Hayward was more efficient, nailing 4 of 6. Carroll, Jamaal Tinsley and Blake Ahearn each hit one, with Ahearn scoring his first points in a Jazz uniform.

The Mavs had five players who hit two or more trifectas.

Extra-long game means extra stats:

  • The Utah Jazz bench played a total of 56 minutes. By comparison, four starters played 53 or 54 minutes each.
  • The Dallas bench outscored their counterparts 51-17.
  • The Jazz assisted on 30 of their 41 made field goals, an impressive 73.2 percent clip.
  • Derrick Favors was hampered with foul trouble, seeing only 13 minutes of playing time. As a result, his streak of straight double-doubles ended at three.

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.