While it may not have been the way they wanted, the Utah Jazz were able to dig deep and pull out a win against Dirk Nowitzki and Dallas Mavericks. It was a tale of two halves in this one as the Jazz only shot 26.1% in the first quarter and 35.6% over the first half. Fortunately, the Jazz defense showed up and they were able to hold the Mavericks to 36.1% shooting in the first half and out rebound them 26-17. The Jazz did this by switching picks, but not letting Dirk get a mismatch that he could exploit. The defense held Nowitzki to just nine points, which is the lowest point total Nowitzki has scored against the Jazz since his sophomore year on February 24th of 2000.
Rudy Gobert also proved why he is worth $100 million. He not only shut down Andrew Bogut and the rest of the Mavericks bigs, but he impacted the shots of any guard that tried to drive into the paint throughout the game. While he finished the game with three blocks and two steals, some advanced metrics, like the one from this tweet from Andy Larsen show that Gobert’s impact extended well beyond just those five individual stats he was credited with.
Jazz DRtg with Rudy Gobert in the game tonight: 69.4!
— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) November 3, 2016
The second half was a different story as the teams combined for 104 points, compared to the 74 in the first half. Threes were flying for the Jazz as they went 11-18 from deep. Dallas tried a variety of defensive tactics, including switching to a zone defebse, but the offense found a way to beat each one. Hill and Hood became the primary ball handlers and were able to pick apart the defense by getting in to the lane. Bogut was not the defensive force he used to be and without him no one could stop the dribble penetration that ultimately led to the win.
25 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 9-15 FG, 4-6 3FG, 3-3 FT, +24
Hill has done everything he can to help this team win while Gordon Hayward is out. He has been the best scorer for this Jazz team and he did not disappoint tonight. He scored it in a variety of ways, but what opened up everything was his dribble penetration. The scoring is fantastic, but getting six rebounds from your point guard is truly invaluable to a team. There wont be many nights the Jazz lose when they get this level of production from Hill.
Three Major Takeaways
1) Veteran Mentality
This felt like the perfect game that would have trapped last years Jazz team. They were coming off a big win in San Antonio, playing on a back-to-back, and playing a hungry, winless Maverick team led by Nowitzki. Nonetheless, this team showed they have a strong mental state of mind that is fueled by the new veterans. They are going to take this season game by game and not overlook any team.
2) Defensive Presence
Up until this game the Jazz only had the 13th best defense according to defensive rating. Tonight the defense showed up, and while it’s true the Mavericks only have the 15th ranked offense, it was good to see the Jazz smother a team defensively. If they truly want to be special this year they need to be an elite defensive team.
3) Dirk Doesn’t Look The Same
Nowitzki went 0-5 from three tonight and 4-14 from the field. He couldn’t find a way to punish the Jazz like he has for so many years. If he cannot get it going, it could be a really long season for the Mavericks as they really don’t have much scoring power outside of him.
Play Of The Game
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) November 3, 2016
Playoff seed impact of game result
FiveThirtyEight gave the Jazz an 80% chance of winning this game and they also had the Jazz projected to win 52 games on the season before this game started. The Mavericks are not the same team they have been the last couple years challenging for home court advantage and may even miss the play offs this year. That said, every single game against a Western Conference team matters for playoff seeding. After the win the Jazz actually jumped up to 53 wins in the projections and FiveThiryEight now gives them a 93% chance of making the playoffs.