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- Utah Jazz forward Marvin Williams was listed as a game-time decision because of left knee inflammation against the Dallas Mavericks tonight, but he will play and be in the starting lineup. Williams will be making his 50th start of the season.
- Having Williams is more impactful than some people may realize. He is probably best equipped on the Jazz roster to guard Dirk Nowitzki. Williams will do most of the work against Nowitzki, and he’ll also get some help from Derrick Favors and Jeremy Evans. “(Williams) is a guy with a little bit more mobility, but Derrick is capable of playing him,” said Utah coach Tyrone Corbin. “Derrick’s size and the way he can move … he’s going to have to play him some regardless. We worry a little bit about foul trouble with him trying to protect the paint. We’ll look and see how it is.”
- It could be a big night for Nowitzki. He needs 18 points to pass Oscar Robertson for 10th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. And considering how well Nowitzki usually plays in Utah, he probably has a good shot at moving up the list. Not that it’s currently on the minds of the playoff-pushing Mavericks at the moment. “We’ll talk about that when it happens,” said Dallas coach Rick Carlisle. “It’s going to be a great accomplishment, but we got other things to do first.”
- The Mavericks are currently seventh in the Western Conference, holding a half-game lead over eighth-place Phoenix and a 1 and 1/2-game lead over ninth-place Memphis. Dallas has to go 3-1 in its final four games to reach the playoffs, but the road gets much tougher after tonight as it closes with San Antonio, Phoenix and Memphis. Carlisle wasn’t interested in discussing other seeding possibilities for the playoffs, but it’s notable that his Mavericks (47-31) would have the third-best record in the Eastern Conference if they played there. “Just got to find a way to make it — that’s the way it is,” Carlisle said. “I’m concentrating on this game tonight and then three more so it’s not an issue for us. But it’s hard work in the West. It’s that way this year. It’s been this way many other years. If you want it easy, go somewhere else.”
- The Jazz, meanwhile, have four games remaining after tonight, and have a fan base that’s more concerned with racking up more ping pong balls for the draft lottery than winning games. And the team’s goal for the last eight days of the season? “Play as hard as you can for eight days,” Corbin said. “Play as hard as you can for eight days and see what happens.”
– Andrew Aragon