Mavs try to keep it going against Jazz
It didn't appear the Dallas Mavericks missed chieftain Dirk Nowitzki in their season-opening win over the star-studded Los Angeles Lakers.
Whether the magic continues tonight against the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City remains to be seen.
Dallas, which is opening the new campaign with back-to-back road games before playing three in a row in Big D, squeezed out a 99-91 win over the Lakers last night behind 17 points from Darren Collison. Collison led six players in double figures, while Brandan Wright had 14 points and O.J. Mayo 12 in his Dallas debut.
"We kept the tempo going, if you execute and have talent, you're going to win," Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle said after spoiling the Lakers' season opener.
Vince Carter, Shawn Marion and Rodrigue Beaubois scored 11 points apiece for the Mavericks, who had a 16-point lead in the second half.
Meanwhile, Nowitzki is currently recovering from knee surgery and isn't expected back any time soon. To make matters more difficult, Mavericks center Chris Kaman is dealing with a strained calf.
The Jazz made it to the postseason a year ago, but were swept in four games by the San Antonio Spurs in the opening round. They added some weapons in order to make another run, as guard Mo Williams and forward Marvin Williams joined Utah stars Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap.
Jefferson was asked what his expectations are for this season.
"Pick up where we left off last year," Jefferson said. "We made a good run, we made the playoffs, but I know everybody kinda had a bad taste in their mouth getting swept in the first round. So now we wanna get back to the playoffs and hopefully advance."
The Jazz are hoping they have the right pieces to grow. The frontcourt should have no issue doing so because it's already in place. Jefferson, Millsap and rising youngsters Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter bring a solid foursome to the paint. All of them contributed to Utah's tough defense that ranked third in the NBA in both rebounds per game (44.1) and offensive boards per game (13.1). Utah also was fourth in both points per game (99.7) and blocks (5.8).
Utah coach Tyrone Corbin is optimistic the addition of Mo Williams can only help his team's chances of reaching the postseason once again.
"Absolutely, absolutely. He has a great background in this league and he's been a leader on teams in Cleveland, did a good job in Milwaukee, he played a great role with the Clippers last year," Corbin said. "We're going to look for him to do a lot of things for us. I think he's up for the challenge."
Williams is a true point scorer and is dangerous with his midrange jumper. He is now a part of a team that is frontcourt heavy and said his game is based on spreading the ball down low. Williams added that he is excited about his new surrounding and will lead by example. He preached staying in shape and showing what it takes to be a winner will eventually rub off.
The Jazz are 17-21 all-time in season-opening games and own an 11-3 mark in openers at EnergySolutions Arena. Utah also has won five in a row at home to begin a season.
Dallas took three of four matchups from Utah in 2011-12 and has prevailed in seven of the past eight encounters between the two clubs.