We showed a lot of fight to fight back. But we can’t continue to dig that kind of hole for ourselves at home or on the road; it’s just too hard to overcome. —Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin
DALLAS — The Utah Jazz played some of their best basketball of the season Friday night against the Dallas Mavericks.
Too bad they waited to do so until trailing by 28 points.
Fall behind big. Rally. Lose.
It’s become a habit for this Jazz team, which followed that script in a 103-93 loss to the Mavericks at American Airlines Center.
“We showed a lot of fight to fight back,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “But we can’t continue to dig that kind of hole for ourselves at home or on the road; it’s just too hard to overcome.”
Trust him on that. The Jazz have tried multiple times this season.
Unlike the one time it worked in that lone win against the Pelicans, Utah failed to finish on the right side of the scoreboard using that pattern Friday. The Jazz have now lost 13 of 14 games and are in their second five-game losing skid less than a month into the 2013-14 campaign.
“You can never become numb to losses,” Corbin said. “I don’t care what stage you’re at — young, old, whatever it is — losing is no fun, and you can’t fall in love with that.”
The Jazz face a stiff challenge to get their next win anytime soon, with another road game Sunday in Oklahoma City and a home contest the next night against Chicago.
“I don’t think anyone in this locker room is used to losing. I hope no one in this locker room is OK with losing,” said Jazz forward Marvin Williams, who’s had quite the last few days. “I think everyone comes out and they play to win; they play as hard as they can to win.”
Unfortunately, he admitted, that just takes awhile to really kick in some games.
That was the case Friday, when Utah only scored 34 points in the first half and found itself trailing 54-26. The Jazz were a completely different team in the third and fourth quarters, outscoring Dallas 59-45.
“The first half, we didn’t come out with the intensity that we should have,” said Jazz power forward Derrick Favors, who had 13 points and eight rebounds. “In the second half, we came out with a lot of intensity. Guys did a good job of coming in and playing in the second half trying to get the win.”
This defeat was particularly similar to Monday’s setback at home to the Golden State Warriors. This time, though, instead of doing the old trim-a-28-point-lead-in-half trick, the Jazz roared back to within five points of the Mavericks with 4:42 remaining on a Favors dunk.
The Jazz’s effort and energy were both vastly different in the two halves, Corbin pointed out.
The lineups to start each half changed, too.
Rookie point guard Trey Burke and Williams, Utah’s masked man, were inserted into the first unit after halftime, replacing John Lucas III and Enes Kanter.
Things got clicking in the third quarter, though, when D-League call-up Diante Garrett subbed in for Burke with Utah behind 66-45.
At the same time, Gordon Hayward, playing with a bruised right kneecap, rediscovered his shooting touch. Two nights after his historically bad 1 for 17 game in New Orleans, the shooting guard scored all 13 of his points after the break.
Williams, playing with a reset broken nose and a protective mask, scored 12 of his team-high 19 in the third quarter. That, after flying in earlier in the day to catch up with the team following Thursday's nose surgery.
"It’s been a long day, but that’s part of being a professional," Williams said. "Sometimes you have to face a little adversity, and I think I might have today, but I fought through it and tried to be here for my teammates and my coaching staff."
Garrett, who didn’t play in the first half, dished out eight assists and scored seven points in a spirited 16-minute second-half effort.
Forward Jeremy Evans, who has yet to miss a shot this season in 11 attempts, had two blocks and six of his 14 points in the comeback.
Ultimately, however, the Mavericks (9-4) proved to have too much firepower.
Point guard Jose Calderon followed Favors’ slam with a weak-side 3-pointer when the Jazz were concentrating defensive manpower on Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis drove-and-dished to the open Spaniard.
“He made a big shot for them,” Corbin said, “and that gave them some separation to finish the game.”
Ellis, who’s been on a tear in his new NBA home, scored 26 points with six assists, while center Samuel Dalembert (12 rebounds) and Nowitzki each fired in 18 points for the high-scoring Mavs.
“Our first half was very good,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “The second half we gave in to playing the score instead of continuing to do things the right way. They made runs. We have to give (the Jazz) credit. They stuck with it, played hard and made big plays.”
Now if the Jazz would only start doing that when they weren’t behind by four touchdowns.
NOTES: Burke finished with five points on 2-of-8 shooting, five rebounds and three assists in 20 minutes in his second game back from finger surgery. Evans hit all seven of his shots after making his first four in his season debut Wednesday. Corbin: “Another great effort. He shot the ball well. Defensively he competed. He’s doing a lot of good things on the floor as he works his way back into shape.” Hayward shot 5 for 12 after missing his first two shots. Utah hit 50 percent of its shots for only the second time this season.