That game in the rocky mile-high air in Denver tonight just got a tad tougher for the Dallas Mavericks because they failed to take care of business Friday night against the Utah Jazz.
The Mavs were up 28 points on Utah in the second period and seemed to be in control. But the Jazz regrouped and inched to within five points late in the game before the Mavs held on for a 103-93 victory at American Airlines Center.
“It was disappointing, but wins are hard to get, so it’s a good win from that perspective,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “Our execution was poor in the second half at both ends. It was pretty obvious.
“But hey, right now we’ve got to get on a plane and go play another team. So that’s where we are.”
The win helped the Mavs complete their homestand with a 3-0 record. They also won their fourth straight game and improved to 9-4.
The Mavs just hope there are no lingering effects from Friday’s game before they play the Nuggets at 8 tonight at the Pepsi Center.
“We’ll take it, we know what we’ve got to do,” said Monte Ellis, who scored a game-high 26 points.
“Coach already came in and told us where we had our slippage at, and we have a lot of veteran guys on the team understand that we know we’ve got to play better.”
In blasting to a 54-26 lead with 2:11 left in the first half, the Mavs seemed to be in control. Ellis, Dirk Nowitzki, Samuel Dalembert, Shawn Marion and DeJuan Blair were in synch.
But after being up 58-34 at the half, the Mavs appeared to either take their foot off the gas or turn their attention to the Nuggets before finishing off the Jazz.
“Actually, I thought the starters were going to be sitting down in the fourth quarter and let the young guys go out there and do their thing,” said Dalembert, who contributed 18 points and 12 rebounds.
“But the way we let them come back, Coach called us back in and we had to make sure we established ourselves.’’
A dunk by Derrick Favors cut the Utah deficit to 90-85 with 4:41 remaining in the game. But the Mavs went on a 10-2 tear to pull ahead 100-87 with 2:33 left and put the game out of the Jazz’s reach.
Jose Calderon made a 3-pointer to start the winning rally, Dalembert scored off an offensive rebound, and Nowitzki converted a three-point play and followed that up with a pair of free throws.
Still, the Mavs knew they wasted too much energy on a 1-13 Utah team. It was energy they could use against the Nuggets tonight.
“We got outside our game and had a lot of turnovers,” Ellis said. “I think on the defensive end we played a little hesitant, they made shots, got on a run and they continued to play.”
The Mavs shot 59 percent from the field in the first half, but only 41.7 percent in the second half.
“Our first half was very good and the second half we gave in to playing the score instead of continuing to work to do things the right way and they made runs,” Carlisle said. “Look, it’s a win, we’ll take it
“I don’t like the way we played in the second half. But we’ve got between now and [tonight] at 8 o’clock central time to straighten some things out.”