|5:30 PM PT6:30 PM MT7:30 PM CT8:30 PM ET0:30 GMT8:30 5:30 PM MST7:30 PM EST4:30 UAE (+1)01:3020:30 ET6:30 PM CTNaN:� , March 22, 2018
American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas Attendance: 19,725
Jazz not overlooking Mavericks
Losses have been few rare for Utah over the last two months, but any setback over the next three weeks could potentially be devastating as the Jazz try to hold on to a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
It is why opening a three-game road trip Thursday by visiting the Dallas Mavericks is so important for Utah.
The Jazz (40-31) lost for only the third time in 24 games Tuesday at home against Atlanta. The 99-94 defeat was enough to drop Utah to eighth place in the West standings, 1 1/2 games ahead of the Denver Nuggets.
Four games separated fourth-place Oklahoma City with the 10th-place Los Angeles Clippers. The Jazz can't look at every game as a must-win, even it feels that way.
Utah feels it must get the trip off on the right foot, especially with games at San Antonio and Golden State looming.
"Are we going to sit around and cry about losing to the Atlanta Hawks?" Utah center Rudy Gobert said, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. "Or are we going to move on? We have to stay focused. We have to stay confident and stay hungry. We have to keep trusting each other. But we gotta know right now that we can beat anyone or lose to anyone."
The defeat to the lottery-bound Hawks provided a valuable lesson for a squad that enjoyed a nine-game winning streak going into the game and an 11-game unbeaten run to start its surge in the West.
"We found out that we're not invincible," Utah rookie guard Donovan Mitchell said, according to the Tribune. "We can't play well all the time, and we're going to have games like this. But we weren't able to make shots and execute. It was an off night, but we'll get better offensively."
The Jazz are 2-0 against Dallas this season and a win Thursday at American Airlines Center would give Utah its first series sweep since 1998-99. Gobert is averaging 15 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks in the first two games against the Mavs.
The Mavericks (22-49) have lost three straight and are likely without point guard Dennis Smith Jr. The rookie missed Tuesday's 115-105 loss at New Orleans with a sprained ankle suffered Saturday at Brooklyn.
After struggling in Friday's overtime loss at Toronto, Smith was producing a solid game against the Nets before going down.
"It just means I'm becoming an NBA player," Smith said. "They say that the biggest thing for me to learn is the next play, or next game and next shot. That's part of the learning process."
Smith was relieved that X-rays were negative. He's confident he'll return to the court before the season is done.
"I want to finish the year out strong and I can't do that if I'm hurt," Smith said.
Dallas went 1-3 on its four-game road trip spread over nine days and two countries.
"It seemed exceptionally long, but if you're going to set up the schedule for better spacing, this is going to be one of the by-products," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said of the road trip. "It'll be good to get back. We did some good things on the trip, but it's time to go home."
Updated March 22, 2018