Dallas • Somewhere in the last week, the Jazz's road troubles have gone from a trend to an all-out bender.
Nine straight road losses isn't a franchise record, or even really close, but it is the longest such streak since 1981-82. The DePaul Blue Demons finished 26.2 points that year and a freshman named Tyrone Corbin averaged 5.1 points per game.
The problem continues to be an inability to play start to finish, or, when they do slump, to recover quickly.
Al Jefferson tonight said, "We just all got to stay focused, 48 minutes. I think if we were to play the way we started the game and the way we finished the game, I think we would have had a great chance."
It's a cliche, but that doesn't make it wrong.
It was pointed out Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the Jazz have not won consecutive road games all season. "You ever wonder if a team can do that and make the playoffs?" he asked on Twitter.
So, about the playoffs. The eighth seed isn't quite as up for grabs as it was before this road trip. The Jazz went 0-3, but their only real chance to earn a win was in San Antonio. The other two losses were not as close as the final score made it out to be. What record would it take for the Jazz to get into the playoffs? 10-2? These guys have lost 12 of their last 15. There is no switch that turns it all around. However, they played well in San Antonio and Dallas, two tough road environments. If they bring that tomorrow against Philadelphia, they win. And Wednesday against Phoenix. And in Portland on Friday. And against the Nets on Saturday.
Wrote Jeff Caplan of NBA.com, knowing that eight of the remaining 12 are at home has become "something of a rallying cry" for this Jazz bunch.
The Jazz are coming out of one of the most brutal stretches of the season and are entering one of the cushiest. Nobody in the press has been more adamant than me that the Jazz would not make the playoffs. It still would be a stretch, but the schedule shapes up in a way that it's not unthinkable.
The biggest play of the game tonight, I thought was mid-way through the second quarter. The Jazz were on a 9-2 run, led 42-35 and Marvin Williams stole the ball from Chris Kaman. He went the other way and up for a dunk and blocked by the rim. The Mavericks came back running, Vince Carter hits a transition 3. That's a 5-point swing, yes, but in the grand scheme of things it felt much bigger. The Mavs used that 3 to close the quarter on a 18-10 run and take a 53-52 lead.
If the Jazz go up 9 there, maybe it's a different story.
Tyrone Corbin picked up his sixth technical foul of the season after Enes Kanter was called for unsportsmanlike rim touching or some such tomfoolery in the fourth quarter. Many lingering questions from that play: How can you interfere at the basket when the ball is flying into the stands? Was that really a shot? Marion went up, but lost the ball, he never completed a shooting motion. Regardless, it was a T on Kanter, the basket counted, there was a foul and Corbin received a T. Five-point play.
"The one they said Enes grabbed the rim. I didn't think he grabbed the rim. They gave him a basket, a technical, a free throw. It can't get a five-point play. I asked the guy what's the deal? He said he grabbed the rim. He did not grab the rim! I didn't see - unless, maybe we'll look at the replay, from my angle I didn't think he grabbed the rim. He blocked the shot, but he said he grabbed the rim and I disagreed with him."
Dallas signed Mike James to a 10-day contract in January. Previously he'd played for the Texas Legends. He is 37 years old. It's all sort of a charming story. Before the game, Corbin said he liked what James had done for the Mavs. It's all very Tinsley-esque, isn't it?
Then James completely roasted the Jazz. Dude finished with a season-high 19 points and 5 assists. He entered the game averaging 5.6 and 2.7. Somehow, the Mavs are 8-3 since James became the starting point guard.
According to Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas, this is all fun and games for James, who is playing for his 12th NBA team.
Corbin blamed the pick and roll defense. If Tyrone Corbin was a doll, and you could pull a string to hear his most oft-used quotes, one would surely include him lamenting his team's pick and roll defense.