DALLAS — With the return of Thabo Sefolosha after serving a five-game suspension, some suspected Georges Niang’s minutes might take a hit.
Niang wasn’t concerned, though.
“I’m not worried at all,” Niang said, ahead the Utah Jazz’s third consecutive road win against the Dallas Mavericks Sunday night, 113-104.
“If I’m called upon, I’m going to be ready, and if I’m not I’m still going to be a great teammate,” he predicted. “That’s not my job, that’s the coach’s job to figure out who’s going to play. All I can do is control my attitude and my effort and how I treat the people around me, so that’s what I’m going to continue to do.”
Not only was he called upon, the former Iowa State star delivered a career-best 13 points on 4-for-5 shooting in 13 minutes of the Jazz’s latest victory.
Sefolosha received a DNP-coach’s decision on the night, but says he’ll also be ready to go when his number is called.
“I’m feeling great,” Sefolosha said. “Even though it’s only been five games, it felt like a month, so I’m glad to be back and just ready to go out there and help the team win.”
Utah’s bench posted 37 total points with rookie guard Grayson Allen also contributing 11 points on 3-for-3 shooting.
With Alec Burks also receiving a DNP-coach’s decision due to a left hand contusion and Derrick Favors out with left knee soreness, both Niang and Allen took advantage of the opportunity.
| Grayson & Georges combined for 24 points and were 7-8 from the field pic.twitter.com/SmBJx7ZUFv— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) October 29, 2018
“Georges is playing good, but we’re not just a team about any one guy,” said Jazz coach Quin Snyder. “We’re not about our starters, we’re not about our bench, we’re not about any one player. This is a group that has to perform together, so when guys play together and play the right way, we’re a better team.”
While the Jazz’s bench was spectacular, so were the starters on the second night of a back-to-back.
Reigning Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert continued to display his offensive repertoire with 23 points, 16 rebounds, three blocks, two assists and two steals on 9-for-13 shooting. It was his sixth double-double of the season as the Jazz are now 4-0 on the road.
Jae Crowder started in place of the injured Favors to post 15 points and six rebounds but also rolled his ankle near the end of regulation.
“At the end of the day, there were 30 seconds left in the game … it could have been much worse, but I was able to catch myself a little bit,” Crowder said. “The X-rays came back fine, so I should be day-to-day.”
Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell added 20 points with four assists while being matched up against a tough defender in Wesley Matthews — who posted 22 points and seven rebounds for Dallas.
Dennis Smith Jr. led the Mavericks with a game-high 27 points, which also tied his career-best mark.
However, Niang proved to be the story of the game as he continues to earn trust from the Jazz coaching staff with his all-around skill set. After a productive summer league performance, the Jazz signed the restricted free agent to a three-year, $5 million deal. The former two-way player shed weight over the offseason and is now making the most of the time he receives in the rotation.
“Whenever you get rolling and play well, obviously it makes you feel good,” Niang said. “Those two games at home, you wish we could’ve got those wins for sure, but the fact that we’re on a (three-game) winning streak you kind of want to continue to ride that wave and continue the success we’ve had as a team and push that forward.”
Utah (4-2) will wrap up its four-game road trip in Minnesota on Wednesday with the team beginning to find a groove after a 1-2 start. Against Dallas, Utah shot 52.5 percent as a team while holding Dallas to just 41.8 percent on the night.
“I think that playing through these last few games, we got our confidence and we really showed that tonight,” Niang said. “Obviously when shots go in, it helps with our confidence, but with the way the game was flowing we just kept it rolling.”