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Dallas T-fouls a factor

Points resulting from calls exceed winning margin

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There were reasons aplenty for the Dallas Mavericks' 88-86 defeat at the hands of the Utah Jazz Saturday at the Delta Center.

Poor rebounding, a slow start and sloppy execution in stretches were among the factors mentioned as leading to Dallas' demise.

Oddly, no one mentioned technical fouls.

The Mavs' coaching staff was hit with three technicals, which Jazz guard John Stockton converted into three points.

You can argue that the those three points weren't crucial in the 48-minute scheme of things, but another way of looking at it is that they accounted for Utah's winning margin.

Donn Nelson, son of head coach Don Nelson, tried to suggest that the technicals — one for him and two for Dad, which meant his fourth-quarter ejection — seemed to give the Mavs a lift, but that really wasn't the case on either occasion.

When the first two technicals were assessed midway through the third quarter, the Mavs were down by eight and quickly fell behind by 13. What gave Dallas a lift back into the ballgame was the absence of Stockton, who sat out for more than five minutes while the Mavs whittled that Jazz lead down to two.

When head coach Nelson got his second technical, it was a two-point ballgame and remained close the rest of the way.

"You have to stick up for your players," Nelson the younger said. "It's just something that every coach does."

Oddly again, the senior Nelson got both of his T's for complaining about actions by Karl Malone and on both occasions after the Mavericks had taken possession.

The elder Nelson, who is not one of Malone's biggest fans, may have been trying to get some official attention for the rest of the series, figuring that a technical or two at this point might not make much difference.

If so, he figured wrong.

As for non-technical issues, the Mavericks pretty much held the attitude that they'd blown an excellent chance to take a 1-0 lead in this best-of-five series and thus wrest homecourt advantage from Utah.

"I guess it just wasn't meant to be, because a lot of things didn't go our way," said point guard Steve Nash, who finished with 20 points, seven assists and five turnovers.

"We should have won this game," said Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki, who made a disappointing 7 of 20 shots from the field. "We had a big chance today, and I think we have a great chance on Tuesday. We're just going to have to go back to the basics."

One "basic" that hurt the Mavs was their willingness to surrender offensive rebounds. Utah had 19 offensive boards, which the Jazz turned into an 18-13 advantage in second-chance points.

Not a huge gap, but again, enough to account for the difference in a two-point contest.

One thing the Mavs emphasized is that their loss wasn't a case of playoff-debut jitters.

"I don't think (we) felt any different than a regular-season game," Nash said. "We just wanted to win a little bit more."

"It's not that big a deal," Nowitzki said. "It's still basketball."


E-mail: rich@desnews.com