By Myka Williams
While the Mavericks (19-4) hosted its annual Seats for Soldiers, they left everything they had on the hardwood, after facing an up-tempo Utah Jazz (17-8) ball club with home court advantage at the American Airlines Center. While trying to sustain its 11- game win streak, the Mavericks added one more, with a 103-97 edge.
It was a sizzling start for the Mavericks in the first quarter, as they jumped out to a 29-4 lead, raining treys from all over the court during a 17-0 run to open the game.
At halftime, the Mavericks led 54-42 shooting 53 percent, while Utah continued its shooting woes with just 37 percent.
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After its largest 25-point lead in the first quarter shrunk to just two in the fourth, the Mavericks knew the Jazz would try and find its way back into the game. With an offensive-oriented history, the Jazz edged closer and closer to tie the game late. But they never led, as the Mavericks made critical free-throws in the fourth quarter while Dirk Nowitzki led the way with 31 points and 15 rebounds, and Jason Terry came up big behind his 12 fourth quarter points with a clutch three-pointer to seal the deal.
“Well, first of all, to God be to glory on a night where it‘s very emotional (Seats for Soldiers),” Terry said. “Our starters got off to an outstanding start. As a bench player you have a huge responsibility, and you have to pretty much come in cold and try to maintain. It was tough and I had a couple of turnovers early, but everybody stayed positive. I give Coach Carlisle a lot of credit when he easily could of went with somebody else. He stayed confident in me and the guys kept me going. They said stay in it, stay in it, it‘s going to turn.”
Entering the AAC a night after a home defeat of the Orlando Magic on Friday, Deron Williams, who finished with a season-high of 34 points and Paul Millsap who added 16, traveled to Dallas ready to end the Mavericks six-game winning homestand.
One of the NBA’s elite point guards, Williams, was the Maverick’s primary threat, after his dominant attacks in the paint earned him countless scoring opportunities and several trips to the free-throw line. His late three-point play to tie the game at 89 with 4:31 remaining in the game, later sparked Utah swingman, Ronnie Price, who concluded with 14 points to convert a three-pointer to keep the game tight 96-95 with 2:40 left to play.
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Nowitzki stayed aggressive and drove to the basket, conducting a three-point play while going up for a layup for a 99-95 lead with 2:19 left.
Jazz center Al Jefferson had a follow-up put back to give his team some life, only down by two 99-97 with 29.9 seconds.
Nowitzki found Terry in the corner for a three-pointer as the clock wound down to 7.6 seconds. Dallas’ lead was out of reach for the Jazz, up 102-97 and it was too late for Utah to climb its way back into the game.
“It’s an unbelievable start and one of the best runs that I’ve been a part of in this league,” Nowitzki said about the win. “Everyone was clicking on both ends of the floor, getting stops, running out and shooting the ball like I’ve never seen.”
Dallas’ head coach, Rick Carlise, was impressed with the great start his team had.
“I love that we were able to get out to that kind of a hot start,” Carlisle told the media after the win. “Those things never hold up, other than the team in Indiana that got out to a 35-8 lead in Utah one time. And Utah came back to take the lead, and we ended up barely winning.That’s a team that fights and they fight back and they had a bunch of guys at crunch time that were just hard playing guys. It’s a win that we needed.”
This game marks 12-straight wins for the Mavericks, 17 being the most in team history. They have now tied with the San Antonio Spurs in longest win streaks this 2010-2011 season, who recently had a 12-game win streak that the Mavericks put to an end late November.
Brandon Jennings and the Milwaukee Bucks (9-13) will land in Dallas on Monday, when they look to end Dallas’ impressive run.