SALT LAKE CITY — Dallas’ Dorian Finney-Smith knew the looks he’d get on Monday.
In the first two games against Utah, Rudy Gobert had sagged way off him which allowed the All-Star Center to patrol everything else. It was Utah’s game plan to give Finney-Smith open looks so Gobert could shut down the rest of the Mavericks. That game plan led to two convincing wins. So why would Monday be any different?
“I knew I was going to get shots because I knew they were going to put Rudy on me,” Finney-Smith said.
That game plan works just fine when the shots miss. When they don’t? Welp, that’s what happened Monday in Dallas.
The Jazz got a bit of a taste of what it’s like to play them when the 3s are falling. The Mavericks hit 23 deep balls en route to a 111-103 victory over the Jazz at American Airlines Center in Dallas.
While Dallas was busy drilling 47% of its shots from distance, Utah struggled to a 12 of 44 night from behind the arc. The Jazz (38-12) have won a lot of games with the same kind of math that they were on the wrong side of on Monday. It’s hard to beat a team when they make 11 more threes than you do.
“We’ve talked about overcoming a poor shooting night, which we had tonight, but they made 10 more 3s tonight so it’s going to be tough to do that,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said.
So it wasn’t that the game plan was suddenly flawed, it’s just that Dallas’ bad shooters shot better than Utah’s good ones. It happens.
Donovan Mitchell was 0 for 8 from 3; so, too, was Royce O’Neale. Jordan Clarkson went 2 for 9 from behind the arc, and Bojan Bogdanovic was 1 for 3. If MIke Conley — who was 6 of 10 — wasn’t shooting, the Jazz likely weren’t making a 3.
The Mavericks shot 23 of 49 from 3-point range and had three players make at least five shots from behind the arc.
The Jazz got fine looks, they just didn’t go in — the Mavericks’ looks did. They call it a make-or-miss league for a reason.
So there weren’t a lot of heads hanging in the Jazz locker room following the loss. In fact, considering they had been outscored by 33 points from the 3-point line, the Jazz were mostly surprised the score was so close at the end.
“it’s just a make-or-miss league at times,” said Mitchell, who finished with just 16 points. “I don’t think any of us is too concerned. … We did a lot of good things, generated good looks, shots just didn’t fall, move on to the next one.”
“They made a lot of shots, and not easy ones,” Gobert said. “They made a lot of shots; we missed a lot of easy ones. Beside all that, we lose by 8 points. To be honest, I really liked the way we responded to the physicality.”
If that sounds like a collective shrug over their losing streak getting snapped, that’s because it more or less was. When Jalen Brunson, Tim Hardaway Jr., Josh Richardson and Finney-Smith combine to go 17 of 31 from behind the arc, it’s likely not gonna be your night. Is that likely to happen again? Nope. So tip your cap and move on.
No one likes to lose, of course, but the effort was mostly there, the defense was good enough, the shots just didn’t go down. Sometimes that’s just how it goes.
“We’ll be fine,” Conley said. “I think that guys understand what we’re capable of doing and we’re trying to hope to eliminate as many nights like we had tonight and just keep shooting that ball.”
Hopefully, next time, that ball will find its way into the hoop a bit more.
“The biggest thing is not to overreact,” Mitchell said. “Sometimes they are not going to go in. There’s going to be nights like this.”