SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Playing without leading scorer Donovan Mitchell didn’t slow down the Utah Jazz.
Utah never trailed in a 116-104 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night. The Jazz overwhelmed the Mavericks on both ends of the court on their way to their 10th straight victory and the NBA overall lead.
Rudy Gobert led the way with his best all-around performance of the season. He finished with 29 points and 20 rebounds – both season highs – and had three blocks and three steals.
Gobert’s dominance around the basket took Dallas out of it early and the Mavericks could never get back on track. His effort ultimately helped Utah pass the Lakers — losers in Philadelphia on Wednesday – for the NBA’s best record at 14-4.
“It’s probably the first time since I’ve been here that I’ve seen that much focus from everyone in this locker room,” Gobert said. “I really feel like we’re playing for something bigger and we’re on a mission.”
Jordan Clarkson added a season-high 31 points off the bench. Joe Ingles chipped in a season-high 21 points — on seven 3-pointers — and eight assists for Utah. He matched his career high with the seven 3s, falling one shy of tying the franchise record.
Mitchell was sidelined for the first time this season after he entered the NBA concussion protocol. Ingles made his first start of the season in Mitchell’s place.
The Jazz shot 53.7% from the floor and made 14 3-pointers through the first three quarters.
“It’s just a really fun group to play with,” Ingles said. “We play for each other. There’s no egos involved. It’s not as unsalvagable as people think.”
Luka Doncic scored 30 points for the Mavericks. Tim Hardaway, Jr. added 19 points and Kristaps Porzingis 18. Dallas lost its third straight game.
“We’re just not ourselves right now,” Doncic said. “We’re gonna have to pick it up and be way better than this.”
Dorian Finney-Smith and Josh Richardson returned to the Mavericks’ starting lineup after both players missed nine games apiece due to COVID-19 healthy and safety protocols. Dwight Powell also returned after an eight-game absence.
Utah got an early boost on offense from Ingles and Gobert. Ingles made a pair of 3-pointers and assisted on two other baskets to help the Jazz stake out a 23-12 lead. Both assists were on baskets from Gobert, who had 10 points in the first quarter.
The Jazz expanded their lead to 32-17 late in the first quarter following three straight baskets from Clarkson that capped a 9-0 run. Then, Clarkson scored 13 of Utah’s first 16 points in the second quarter. His final basket in that stretch put the Jazz up 48-27.
“The first half was the was the killer,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “We didn’t come out with enough force, enough disposition, enough energy. They were great and we did not play well.”
Utah led by as many as 25 points in the third quarter, going up 98-73 on a step-back 3-pointer from Clarkson.
The Jazz never let the Mavericks draw closer than 12 points the rest of the way. Utah coach Quin Snyder credited the team’s success to playing with energy and communicating well on both ends of the court from the opening tip.
“We want to be unselfish, help each other on both ends of the floor,” Snyder said. “The game can be simple if you let it be.”
The teams will complete a two-game set in Utah on Friday night.
Mavericks: Hardaway needs to make two 3-pointers to reach 1,000 career made 3-pointers. He made four 3s against the Jazz. … James Johnson had a season-high four blocked shots. … Dallas went 0 of 6 from 3-point range in the first quarter.
Jazz: Derrick Favors sat out with lower back soreness. … Seven of Ingles’ eight assists were on Gobert’s baskets. … Gobert scored his most points in an NBA game since getting 35 points in a 108-101 victory over New York in March 2017.
During their 10-game winning streak, the Jazz have trailed for a total of 57 seconds in the fourth quarter. New York held a one-point lead to start the fourth in its 108-94 loss on Tuesday before Clarkson helped Utah take the lead for good with his first basket of the quarter.
“It’s just a crazy feeling and crazy vibe that we have and that we preach here. The ball doesn’t stick. We’re all just playing off energy and synergy.” – Clarkson on what has driven Utah’s rise to the top of the Western Conference after a 4-4 start.
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