The Jazz suffered a wire-to-wire beatdown in Northern Texas. Here’s your recap in the form of a rare Thursday1 Triple Team.
1. Utah lost this one early, and on the defensive end.
Dallas scored early, often and without prejudice. The ball zipped around a bunch of dazed defenders as seven Mavs cleared a dozen points, led by 21 apiece from Dirk Nowitzki and Chandler Parsons. The Mavs shot 55% for the game, which is bad enough, but that doesn’t begin to cover how easy they had it in the game’s early minutes.
Dallas’s first miss didn’t come until the 6:50 mark. Think about that: more than five minutes of perfect basketball. By the time they’d miss a second time, the score was 24-13 and the Jazz were essentially done for the evening. The lead would balloon 30, and the Mavs pretty much coasted from there.
There were plenty of culprits, but once again Enes Kanter got an early hook. He got pulled at the 7:45 mark2 after two straight plays where he failed to get back to Dirk. Now, I didn’t see the Jazz’s scouting report before the game, but I imagine it probably said something about not giving that guy daylight on his jumpers. He came back later in the quarter and got juked so bad by the German that one of Dallas’ TV guys said, “That’s just not fair.” He logged only 20 total minutes on Thursday after his 22-minute opener, and that has to be at least mildly concerning after all the talk of him blossoming in a new scheme.
Not that anybody else on the team should be casting the first stone. Dallas’ super quick perimeter players were forcing hard commits by Derrick Favors3, and that ended badly more than once. Both Alec Burks and Rodney Hood got in foul trouble. Trey Burke couldn’t stay in front of the guards. It was just a bad defensive performance all around.
Utah did make things mildly interesting in the second half when they finally started hitting outside shots. After an abysmal first half from deep4, they hit 56% after the break. But the damage was done: Dallas has too much talent to fall from 30 ahead.
2. These first two games have seemed like extended preseason a bit.
Jazz coach Quin Snyder hasn’t stopped tinkering with lineups just because exhibition season is over. Some of this is probably because he’s been searching for solutions while down big to good teams, but he experimented a lot on Thursday.
For example, Dante Exum played about six minutes alongside Burke tonight. Joe Ingles5 got an extended first half run, just days after joining the team. When things weren’t working, Snyder turned to Ian Clark and Steve Novak, essentially stretching his first half rotation to 12 guys. That’s a lot. And he left his starters in pretty late in a game that was well outside the rule of 15, clearly trying to get in some valuable reps.
Perhaps the best indication that Snyder was experimenting was the lineup that closed the first half: Burke, Exum, Hood, Novak and Rudy Gobert. Clearly tinkering.
It’s probably OK to use some of these early games as lineup laboratories. Everyone is still learning each other, and the eleventh hour roster shakeup further complicated the process. Some of these November contests may be “nothing to lose” opportunities to test things out.
3. Wing battle.
Since I petulantly wrote over the summer about how badly the Parsons-Gordon Hayward comparisons bother me, you can imagine that Dallas games have a fun little battle-within-the-battle component for me.
To be clear, I don’t dislike Parsons (or his game) at all. But it’s clear that he’s never had a role even close to what Hayward’s was in 2013-14, so it’s a pretty empty exercise to compare them statistically and conclude anything on an apples-to-apples level. I’m pretty stubborn on this one, and so far with Dallas, Parsons looks like he’ll still be a tertiary option/pressure release valve type of player. Comparing that to a guy who had to (and still has to, to a degree) run his team just doesn’t work. I think it’s a lazy comp made for visual reasons only. Yeah, you know what I’m saying.
So how did the duel go on Thursday?
Hayward had 16 points on 9 shots. Parsons had 21 on 16 shots, but actually was sitting on 13 points and 13 shots until he ripped eight straight in the garbagiest of garbage time6. Gordon had six assists and four rebounds, Parsons had two and seven.
We’ll call it a push statistically for this installment of CP-vs-GH, but again: Parsons has the luxury of playing alongside a first ballot Hall-of-Famer and a slew of very competent handlers and passers. Hayward has to create the majority of his stuff, and a decent portion of the team’s.
Et cetera, et cetera…