Jazz hold off late rally, beat Doncic-less Mavericks 108-100
By JOHN COON
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Lauri Markkanen scored 29 points, Malik Beasley added 19 and the Utah Jazz took advantage of Dallas star Luka Doncic’s absence to beat the Mavericks 108-100 on Saturday night.
Doncic sat out because of a sprained left ankle.
Jordan Clarkson added 14 points for Utah, and Walker Kessler had 14 points, 11 rebounds, and five blocks.
The Jazz rolled out three big men in their starting lineup with great success. Kessler is 7-foot-1, Markkanen stands at 7-foot, and Kelly Olynyk 6-11.
Their presence helped the Jazz go 12-of-18 from the field in the first quarter and shoot 60% from the field overall in the first half. Defensively, Utah finished with a 49-31 advantage on rebounds.
“I think it’s a good look,” Markkanen said. “It’s gonna be a tough matchup. And we just got to be able to dominate the rebounds with that lineup, so we’ll get better.”
Spencer Dinwiddie had 35 points and eight assists for Dallas. Reggie Bullock had 19 points, and Josh Green and Dorian Finney-Smith chipped in 11 apiece.
“With this game, we left some things on the floor for sure,” Dinwiddie said.
After trailing by double digits for much of the game, Dallas cut it to 103-98 on Bullock’s 3-pointer. Markkanen countered with a 3-pointer on the other end to keep the Mavericks from drawing closer and the Jazz held Dallas without a basket over the final 2 1/2 minutes.
“We’re getting better at closing the games and that’s what’s important,” Beasley said. “We’re learning as a team and learning as (individual) players what it takes.”
With Doncic sidelined and his status still day-to-day, Dinwiddie has emerged as the Mavericks’ primary offensive threat while filling in for the All-Star point guard. He has averaged 35.5 points and 8.5 assists over his past two games – while making 21 total baskets and 11 3-pointers in that stretch.
“You can’t change everything,” Dallas coach Jason Kidd said. “You’re gonna try to put these guys in a position to be successful. Spencer has taken that challenge. You saw that in the Phoenix game. He’s not a rookie, so he understands what it means to be a leader.”
Dinwiddie’s elevated production highlights a comeback season for the veteran guard. He has started in 50 games for the Mavericks this season and missed only one contest after playing in just three games two seasons ago after tearing his ACL.
His presence offers a steadying influence to a Dallas offense missing its biggest star.
“Luka is one of a kind and you can’t replicate him, but Spencer Dinwiddie does a pretty good job of getting close in terms of their style of play,” Utah coach Will Hardy said.
Mavericks: Finney-Smith finished with a team-high nine rebounds and a season-high four assists. … Dallas scored 16 points off 17 Utah turnovers.
Jazz: Kessler blocked four shots in the first half. … Mike Conley finished with a game-high 11 assists. … Kelly Olynyk returned to action after missing eight games with a left ankle sprain.
Mavericks: Host Detroit on Monday night.
Jazz: Host Toronto on Wednesday night.
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