Mavs’ Richardson: ‘I think we have a lot of talent from the top to the bottom’

In January, the Dallas Mavericks(28-21) went to Utah to play the Jazz(38-12) in a two-game set, and it was not pretty. Dallas was defeated by double-figures in both games, and was down by 20 points or more in both contests.

Two months later, the Jazz traveled to Dallas to battle the Mavericks on Monday, and this time, it was a much different story. Dallas had five players in double figures led by Luka Doncic’s game-high 31 points to go along with nine rebounds and eight assists. Also, Dorian Finney-Smith had a season-high 23 points, and Jalen Brunson added 20 points off the bench as the Mavericks defeated the Jazz 111-103.

Dallas snapped Utah’s nine-game win streak with the win, which was the longest active win streak in the NBA.

“Every win gives you confidence,” Doncic said. “Any NBA team can beat you, so every win gives you confidence. Obviously, this team is first place in the West, and so it is a big win, and we just have to keep rolling like this.”

The Mavericks are rolling right now. They have now won five straight games, marking their longest win streak of the season. Dallas has won those five games by an average of 13.8 points. In addition, the team has won 13 of its last 18 games and 20 of its last 28 games.

“I like what we’re doing,” Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said after the game. “I like the direction that we’re going. But if you ask the guys in that locker room, they’re going to tell you we haven’t done anything yet; there’s a long way to go here. There’s a lot of ground to make up that we lost early. We’re trying to get into the top six. We’re really not looking at the standings, but we’re just looking game to game.”

Dallas was without their second-leading scorer Kristaps Porzingis(wrist), but without KP, others stepped up and got it done, which speaks to the Mavericks’ depth. Josh Richardson, who had 17 points against the Jazz, discussed how deep Dallas is this season.

“I think we have a lot of talent from the top to the bottom,” he said. “Anytime you got a guy like Tim [Hardaway], JB [Jalen Brunson], Trey [Burke], guys who can shift the whole momentum of a game coming off the bench, and that’s always a big help. I think we have the personal that anybody any night can really hurt you.”

Dallas is getting it done, and hopefully, they can get Porzingis back sooner than later, but for now, they enjoy a big win over the best team in basketball.

Conley replaces injured Booker in 2021 NBA All-Star Game

Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley has been named by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to replace injured Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker on Team Durant in the 2021 NBA All-Star Game, the league announced on Friday.

In addition, Conley will replace Booker in the 2021 MTN DEW® 3-Point Contest, which will be held on March 7 before the NBA All-Star Game.

This is the first NBA All-Star selection for Conley, who is in his 14th season.  He is averaging 16.1 points and 5.7 assists and shooting a career-high 42.2 percent from three-point range in 29 games this season. The 33-year-old Conley has helped the Jazz post an NBA-best 27-9 record.  He joins two Utah teammates, Team LeBron center Rudy Gobert and Team Durant guard Donovan Mitchell, in the NBA All-Star Game.

Booker is unable to play in the NBA All-Star Game or participate in the MTN DEW® 3-Point Contest because of a left knee sprain.  He was named to the NBA All-Star Game by the Commissioner as an injury replacement for Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis.  Booker is averaging 24.9 points and 4.4 assists in 31 games this season.

The NBA All-Star Game and MTN DEW® 3-Point Contest are part of NBA All-Star 2021, which will take place on one night.  TNT’s NBA All-Star coverage on March 7 will begin at 5 p.m. ET with TNT NBA Tip-Off presented by CarMax, followed by the Taco Bell® Skills Challenge and MTN DEW® 3-Point Contest starting at 6:30 p.m. ET.  NBA All-Star Game coverage will begin at 8 p.m. ET, with AT&T Slam Dunk taking place at halftime.

Luka on Mavericks: ‘It’s looking like we don’t care, honestly, if we win games or not’

The Mavericks(8-11) two-game set in Utah was not a fun experience for this team. Dallas was outscored 236-205 in the two games, including getting routed by the Jazz 120-101 on Friday night. With the loss, the Mavericks are now on a four-game losing streak.

Dallas scored only 12 points in the first quarter and trailed by 25 points after one. It was an uphill battle for the Mavericks from there, who got the lead down to 13 in the second quarter but could not get any closer than that.

Utah was still without their leading-scorer Donovan Mitchell, but they got a game-high 32 points from Bojan Bogdanovic and 22 points out of Mike Conley. Utah(15-4) is currently on an 11-game winning streak and has the best record in the NBA.

Luka Doncic led the Mavericks with a team-high 25 points, but he was not happy with the team’s effort after the game. 

“Terrible,” Doncic said. “There’s really not much to say. I never felt like this. and we gotta do something because this is not looking good. We gotta step up and just talk to each other, play way better than this. It’s mostly effort…

“Right now, it’s looking like we don’t care, honestly, if we win games or not. More energy, more effort, dive for every ball, box out, everything. There’s a lot of things we can improve, and I know we will, and that’s all that matters there.”

The Mavericks are struggling right now, and maybe it’s effort, or it could be chemistry issues, as Kristaps Porzingis mentioned after Wednesday’s loss to the Jazz. Still, Friday’s loss was disappointing when you consider how poorly they played on Wednesday.

However, still a lot of basketball left and even a lot of time to fix what’s ailing this team. It does not get any easier as they host the Suns on Saturday night. 

Popovich: ‘It’s a sad day for all of us who knew Jerry Sloan’

Former longtime Utah Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan died on Friday. He was 78.

Sloan had been battling Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia, and he died from complications of the conditions. Before his coaching career, Sloan played 11 seasons in the NBA with the Bullets and Bulls, and he would retire from the NBA in 1976.

After retiring from the NBA, Sloan would coach the Bulls from 1979-1982, and in 1988, Sloan would coach the Utah Jazz, where he had a lot of success, including two NBA Finals appearances.  Both times in the Finals, the Jazz would lose to Jordan and the Bulls.

He would be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009. Sloan resigned from the Jazz and ended his coaching career in 2011. After 26 years of coaching(23 with the Jazz), he finished with 1221 wins. 

A man who looked up to Sloan was Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, and on Friday, Popovich issued the following statement regarding the passing of Jerry Sloan:

 “It’s a sad day for all of us who knew Jerry Sloan. Not only on the basketball court but, more importantly, as a human being. He was genuine and true. And that is rare.

 “He was a mentor for me from afar until I got to know him. A man who suffered no fools, he possessed a humor, often disguised, and had a heart as big as the prairie.”  

NBA suspends season after player tests positive for coronavirus

On Wednesday, the NBA announced that it was suspending its season due to the coronavirus. According to reports, Utah Jazz C Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19(coronavirus).

Before the decision to suspend the season, the league was reportedly looking at playing games without fans, but Gobert’s reported positive test changes things.

Here is a statement from the NBA:

The NBA announced that a player on the Utah Jazz has preliminarily tested positive for COVID-19. The test result was reported shortly prior to the tip-off of tonight’s game between the Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena. At that time, tonight’s game was canceled. The affected player was not in the arena.

The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight’s schedule of games until further notice. The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.