The Utah Jazz beat the Dallas Mavericks 114-109 at Vivint Arena on Friday night in the Jazz’s first game back from the All-Star break.

High notes

  • There were certainly some really high notes to this game, and we’ll get to a couple of them in a minute, but the highlight of the game was Rudy Gobert vs. Luka Doncic in the closing minutes.

It turned into a battle that was so fun to watch that imagining a seven-game series between these two teams (which could happen) would be absolutely must-see basketball for every minute of every game.

Doncic is one of the most dynamic and lethal offensive players in the game and Gobert is the most dominant defensive players, and so it was a grind to see who could last the longest and make the most plays in their respective expertises, and on Friday it ended up being a masterclass defensive performance from Gobert. On possession after possession, Gobert stayed with Doncic better than any of the Jazz’s wing defenders and then even when he was beat he was able to recover in time to make plays in help defense. It was truly astonishing and great basketball from both sides.

  • For months we’ve been wanting to see the Jazz give consistent effort on the defensive end through four quarters. When you go into the All-Star break on a loss to the Lakers in which the last half of the fourth quarter looked as lackluster as possible compared to the rest of the game, it’s hard to remember what this Jazz team can look like when they really dig in and work on the defensive side.

The Jazz did not play perfectly and the Mavericks were hitting a ridiculous amount of shots, often difficult ones, but even when the Jazz were making mistakes and seeing the Mavs put the ball in they weren’t giving up. They were playing hard and giving effort. There wasn’t a period in this game where it felt like the Jazz weren’t trying. It’s a good reminder of what the Jazz can be.

  • Donovan Mitchell didn’t end up being highlighted as much at the end of the game when it was the Gobert vs. Doncic show, but he was absolutely critical and amazing for the Jazz up to that point. He looked great coming back from his concussion, and although he was sick for most of the All-Star break, he looks just as incredible on both ends of the floor. He finished with a game-high 33 points.
  • Danuel House hasn’t had much playing time with the Jazz’s full roster — the one that he’ll be playing with when the playoffs begin. But that’s what will be important to watch through this final stretch of the season, and he looked like he fit right in on Friday night. 
  • Bojan Bogdanovic wins the award for the best tan gained over the All-Star break.

Low notes

  • When Davis Bertans is hitting every shot no matter how much of a hand he has in his face, there’s not really much you can do about that … other than denying him the ball. That’s probably one of the things the Jazz could have done better in that first half. Bertans clearly had the hot hand, and the Jazz have to be just a little quicker to recognize stuff like that and stay up on those guys not giving them room to get good position or to get the ball off.

Flat notes

  • Every game that the Jazz play against Western Conference playoff teams is going to reinforce the fact that there are not going to be any easy outs in the first round. The Jazz will have their work cut out for them no matter what happens.