DALLAS — After a tough opening night loss, the Dallas Mavericks bounced back Thursday night with help from Dirk Nowitzki.
The veteran forward scored 21 points and the Mavericks pounded the Utah Jazz 120-102 at American Airlines Center.
The Mavericks (1-1) lost on opening night at defending NBA champion San Antonio but blew away the Jazz early.
Utah fell to 0-2, with both of its losses by double figures.
Dallas shot 55 percent from the field for the game — 60 percent in the first half — and outscored the Jazz 52-28 in the paint.
“We spaced the floor well and kept the pace, and because of that we had room to attack and make plays,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “Utah is a hard team to play, even if the score is an uneven score. They just kept coming at us and coming at us, and I thought we did a good job maintaining a level of competitiveness.”
Nowitzki played only 24 stress-free minutes and knocked down 9 of 13 shots from the field.
“We’re deep, we’re very explosive offensively and I think we showed on occasion tonight,” Nowitzki said. “We knew this team was coming out of a back-to-back traveling from Utah, and we wanted to set the tone early and that’s what we did.”
The Mavs had seven players score at least 12 points. Small forward Chandler Parsons finished with 21 points and seven rebounds. Forward Al-Farouq Aminu contributed 16 points and team-high 10 boards off the bench.
The Jazz were at the other end of the offensive spectrum, shooting just 43 percent from the floor and turning the ball over 15 times. Power forward Derrick Favors paced Utah with 17 points and 11 rebounds one night after a home loss to Houston.
The Mavericks didn’t leave anything to chance, unlike the back-and-forth, one-point nail-biter Tuesday night with the Spurs. Dallas never trailed against first-year Jazz coach Quin Snyder’s squad.
“When your defense doesn’t generate anything for you, it makes the game harder,” Snyder said. “When you are fragmented on defense, there is an inclination for individual guys to want to get it back. That may work for a minute or a possession or two when you hit a shot, but we are not going to be able to sustain offense over time unless we play more collectively.”
The Jazz did cut a 30-point deficit to 14 on guard Alec Burks’ 3-pointer in the third quarter, when the Mavericks got a little sloppy with the ball. Utah wouldn’t get any closer.
The Mavericks did everything they wanted to do from the opening tip, especially at the rim. Dallas made its first eight shots from the floor and had a double-digit lead before the game was four minutes old.
Nowitzki scored nine in the first quarter on 4-of-4 shooting from the floor. Chandler and his backup, Brandan Wright, were the beneficiary of lobs for easy dunks, and Utah was down 36-20 going into the second quarter.
The Mavericks didn’t let up, and the lead hit 30 before halftime. Nowitzki, Parsons, Chandler and guard Monta Ellis were in double digits by the break.
“We’re going to need balance and we’re going a lot of guys to contribute,” Carlisle said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that are capable of playing. The way it’s looking, we’ve got some different lineups that I think can fit together.”
Shooting guard Gordon Hayward scored a team-best 11 points going into the break for the Jazz. He finished with 16. Utah shot 39 percent from the field in the opening half, with more turnovers (nine) than assists (eight).
Snyder is concerned about his team’s performance through two games, especially defensively.
“I don’t want to make any sweeping statements about trends, but yes,” he said. “I am concerned if we play bad defense for one game, so two in a row is not good.”
The Mavericks improved to 22-13 all time in home openers, including 4-3 against the Jazz. Dallas plays at New Orleans on Saturday, and Utah plays host to Phoenix the same night.
NOTES: The Mavericks welcomed back G J.J. Barea after his release from Minnesota. The eight-year veteran negotiated a buyout from the final year of his contract before signing with Dallas for the veteran’s minimum. “I’m excited to be back,” said Barea, who had four points in 19 minutes off the bench. “The best five years of my life were here. Hopefully, we can get this going again.” Barea joins C Tyson Chandler as the second member of the 2011 championship team to leave after that season only to return for 2014-15. The Mavs released second-year G Gal Mekel. … Utah’s opening night roster had 11 of 15 players under age 25, with the average age of 24.3 making the Jazz the league’s third-youngest team. … Dallas F Richard Jefferson played for Utah last season, and he was the only Jazz player to appear in all 82 games.
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