DALLAS — The final game of their six-day Texas road trip turned out to be a sort of microcosm of the Utah Jazz's entire season so far.
After playing well for 2 1/2 quarters Sunday night, the Jazz crumbled with a bad stretch of basketball and ended up losing to the Dallas Mavericks 113-108 at American Airlines Center.
The Jazz watched a competitive game turn into a 20-point rout by the midpoint of the fourth quarter before making a late rally against the Mavericks’ reserves. It was much like the Jazz season so far, considering the Jazz played well for a little more than half the season when they ran out to a 31-24 record, only to fall into a funk since the All-Star break, playing poorly and losing 12 of 16 games.
With their latest loss, the ninth straight on the road, the Jazz have fallen to 34-36 and are out of the playoff picture, two games behind the eighth-place Lakers. With the win, the Mavericks have moved into a tie with the Jazz for the No. 9 spot in the Western Conference standings.
“That third quarter was disappointing,’’ said Utah coach Tyrone Corbin. “I thought they were the aggressor in the third quarter. We came out and got three or four fouls at the beginning of the quarter and they ended up in the bonus. And then we couldn’t put the ball in the basket, made a couple of defensive mistakes and struggled a little bit.’’
Up until that point, the Jazz were playing the Mavs even after leading 27-24 after the first quarter and trailing by just one at halftime. In the third quarter, incredibly, the lead changed hands 12 times over the first seven minutes before the Mavs suddenly broke away.
From a 69-69 tie at the 5:35 mark, Dallas outscored the Jazz 20-2 over a 7:40 span that stretched into the fourth quarter, including a 15-0 run.
That ended any hope of the Jazz salvaging at least one game on the road trip that began in Houston Wednesday with a seven-point loss and continued Friday night with a seven-point loss in overtime to San Antonio.
This defeat was actually the most lopsided of all, except for a furious rally the Jazz reserves plus Gordon Hayward made in the final three minutes to make the game look respectable.
The Jazz were trailing by 17, 104-87, with less than three minutes left when a group that included Hayward, Alec Burks, DeMarre Carroll, Enes Kanter and Jeremy Evans caused the Mavericks to get a little nervous at the end.
Burks made a three-point play; Evans scored on a putback dunk; Hayward hit a pair of free throws; and with 50 seconds left, the lead was down to 105-96. Then Evans dunked again; Kanter scored inside; and Burks buried a 3-pointer to make it 108-103 with 14.9 seconds left. Then when Hayward drove and was fouled to cut the lead to 111-108 with 7.3 seconds left, the Jazz were a 3-pointer away from tying it.
Do you believe in miracles?
No ... as after a timeout, the Mavericks were able to inbound the ball and Darren Collison sewed it up with a pair of free throws.
Corbin was booed by the few remaining fans at the arena for calling two timeouts in the final 20 seconds, but he said he and his players never gave up.
“This group of guys, man, are going to fight with everything they have,’’ he said. “I have much respect and admiration for that group at the end for just laying it out there. It was (a) chance for us to work on a couple of timeout plays. We’re still growing and it was encouraging to see that at the end.’’
While the Mavericks still have a solid group of players including Dirk Nowitzki, who scored 17 points, Shawn Marion (15 points), Vince Carter (15 points) and Elton Brand (10 points), it was the journeyman Mike James who hurt the Jazz the most.
James, who has played for 11 NBA teams in 11 years and was playing for the Texas Legends in the D-League when the Mavericks signed him to a 10-day contract in early January, led the team in scoring with 19 points and assists with five.
“I thought he played a good all-around game,’’ said Dallas coach Rick Carlisle. “His defense was solid. ... He had timely shot making and made good plays.’’
The Jazz were led by Kanter, who had a fine game off the bench with 17 points in 21 minutes, while six others joined him in double figures, including Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap with 15 apiece, Hayward with 13, Randy Foye with 12, Burks with 11 and Mo Williams with 10.
The Jazz shot 51.2 percent from the field, but were topped by Dallas’ 54.3 percent, including 9 of 18 from 3-point range.
Now it’s back to Utah for the Jazz, who face Philadelphia on Monday night at EnergySolutions Arena at 7 p.m.
“We can’t get the games back that we lost,’’ said Corbin. “We’re going to lay everything we have out there for 12 games and see what happens. We’re not going to lay down we’re going to fight and scratch for every little thing we can get and see where it ends up.’’