The Jazz opened Saturday night's home loss to the Mavericks with a somewhat chippier, nastier attitude than they typically display at the start of games.
At least that was the perception of some Saturday, especially after Jazz shooting guard Raja Bell yapped early on with much-taller Mavericks big man Tyson Chandler, and Utah's pace of play appeared to have a previously unseen sense of urgency.
Utah guard Ronnie Price doesn't totally buy the notion, but he is willing to share some insight on the Jazz's current state of mind.
"We know Dallas is a tough team, but we don't want to be disrespected," he said. "And they came out and they played hard, and we wanted to match their intensity.
"You know, there were a few plays that showed maybe we weren't going to back down. But I think that's the way we always play, and we should always approach every game that way."
If so, then that will again be the case when the Washington Wizards visit Monday night for the third outing of a four-game homestand and the first of eight remaining regular-season games for the Jazz. The urgency should be palpable, especially considering Utah's current losing streak, now up to five games, and its rapidly dwindling postseason hopes.
Jazz swingman C.J. Miles sure seems to feel that way.
"I think coming in here, at this point in the season, with the way things have been going, one thing you don't want to do is pick a fight -- with the frustration level of the guys," Miles said. "Because we play with a chip on our shoulders, so it's already hard.
"So when you come in trying to go at us (like Dallas did), I don't think that's the best way to come at us, because all it does is give us more. We're just playing. We're playing hard. Like, we want to make the playoffs.
"But, you know, the one thing we know we have to do is go at everybody's neck, because nobody's gonna feel sorry for us. So that really helps a lot when people come in here thinking they're gonna try to punk you."
MAVERICKS 94, JAZZ 77: Playing again without injured starters Devin Harris and Andrei Kirilenko, Utah collapsed midway through the fourth quarter Saturday night and lost its fifth straight game. The Jazz (36-38) led by two with just more than six minutes to go, but while Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki rested on the bench, the rest of the Mavericks went on a 13-0 run and put Utah away. The Mavs hit eight of 19 from 3-point range, including demoralizing treys by J.J. Barea and Jason Terry to ignite the run, on a night when the Jazz made just three of 12 3-pointers. Five of Dallas' points during the run came from Terry, who finished with a game-high 22 points off the bench. The Jazz committed 19 turnovers, including one each by Paul Millsap and Earl Watson early in the decisive run. Utah center Al Jefferson scored a team-high 21 points but shot 9-for-21 from the field, including a miss from 10 feet out on the Jazz's next possession following the Watson and Millsap miscues.
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