The Dallas Mavericks benefitted from "Dirk being Dirk'' (20 points in 32 minutes). They closed quarters (a 9-2 edge to end the first, a 20-12 run to close the third). And they even tried to fight back from what Carlisle labeled Utah's "thuggish'' play, which included a body slam away from the ball of Dirk Nowitzki.
But night by night, the fight is being knocked out of Dallas, 100-94 losers and now sharing a 13-22 record that places them alongside Sacramento among the dregs of the West.
"I'm proud of the guys and how we battled,'' said Dirk, saying the right thing after a firestorm that had some confused followers mistakenly thinking he wanted out of Dallas. "Just that little thing down the stretch is missing. That separates the good teams or the great teams from the bad teams."
The separation occured in the fourth, when Utah rode big fourth-quarter contributions from Alec Burks, Paul Millsap and Gordon Hayward and mounted a 13-0 run over a four-minute stretch that put the Jazz ahead for good.
Before the game, coach Rick Carlisle labeled himself "Colonel Sanders.'' Why?
“We got to keep working on things that will help us improve,” Carlisle said. “I’m like Colonel Sanders. I’m going to be enthusiastic about this team every single day. It took him decades to convince somebody that his recipe would sell. So, just call me 'The Colonel.”
It was a funny bit, but as Dallas lost its 12 game in 14 tries, there were once again no consistent answers. Roddy B become the closer at the point in place of Darren Collison. Vince Carter was again on the floor instead of Shawn Marion. Chris Kaman got his crack at being a closer, too, and after making four of his first six shots, maybe it was his night ... but Kaman made just 1-of-6 after the first quarter. Rookie Jared Cunningham made an appearance. Veteran Mike James is joining the club and will be added to the mix.
Whatever Colonel Sanders' "Secret Recipe'' is, these don't seem to be the proper ingredients.