Dallas, the league's highest scoring team (104.9 points per
game), finished with its second-lowest point total of the season
against a stingy Utah defense. The Mavericks had their lowest
output Wednesday in an 80-75 victory at Denver.
"They play aggressive defense and contest each and every
shot,'' said Dallas guard Michael Finley, who finished with 16
points but shot 7-for-21 from the field, including 0-for-6 from
3-point range. "Tonight the enthusiasm and our commitment to
defense weren't there.''
Karl Malone had 16 points and 12 rebounds, and Greg Ostertag
added a season-best 16 points to help Utah end a four-game losing
Malone said the key was a defense that limited Dallas to 33.3
percent shooting from the field (25-for-75), 4-for 24 on
"You just try to contain them. They're steady players, you know
their habits. As much as you can, you've got to keep your body on
them,'' Malone said.
Dallas was the last team in the league to be unbeaten at home.
Coach Don Nelson and his top assistant, son Donnie, weren't
around to see the end. Both were ejected in the second half for
complaining about the lack of foul calls against the physical Jazz.
Dallas was whistled for a season-high 29 personal fouls and Utah
shot 37 free throws, the most by a Mavericks opponent this season.
"They felt the referees weren't giving us a fair shake,''
Finley said. "That's their job, if they see something is wrong,
they have to contest it. But we as players got too much into
critiquing the referees.''
Dirk Nowitzki had 28 points and 17 rebounds while playing all 48
minutes despite a sprained ankle. Steve Nash added 25 for the Mavericks, who still have the league's best record (22-4).
"We just couldn't get over the hump,'' Nowitzki said. "We got
started too late. They're a veteran team that knows how to play
with a lead. We were flat offensively and they had more energy.''
The Jazz took a 76-59 lead into the fourth quarter.
Dallas used a 7-0 run capped by Nash's layup with 3:27 left to
cut it to 85-77, but John Stockton hit a leaning 12-footer with 2:30 remaining and the Mavericks could get no closer.
The Jazz shot 48 percent and held a 47-41 halftime lead despite
18 first-half points from Nowitzki.
Nash hit his first two free throws to extend his team record to
49 in a row, but missed his first attempt in the third quarter. The
miss was Nash's first since Nov. 30.
The elder Nelson picked up two technicals in a span of 1:14 in
the third quarter.
Nelson got his first with 4:22 left when he came onto the court
to complain about the officiating, then drew his second with 3:08
remaining to earn his third ejection of the season.
Donnie Nelson took over the team and was assessed a technical
with 1:44 left in the third for continuing his father's complaints.
The younger Nelson got his second with 5:21 left in the game when
he walked half the length of the court to argue with referee Greg
Willard. Assistant Del Harris ran the team the rest of the way.
Dallas avoided its lowest scoring game of the season when
Walt Williams hit two free throws with 12 seconds left. ... The
Mavericks trailed after the first quarter, 26-24 -- the fourth time
they've been behind at home after one quarter this season. ...
Harpring had 13 first-quarter points. ... Utah had 25 assists to
nine for Dallas.