"If we got a statement game, it's probably when we play the Lakers," Marion said of a March 31 road game in Los Angeles. "We're 1-2 against them right now. They're the defending champions. That's the statement game."
Still, Dallas players knew it was important to start their six-game road trip on a positive note, something they did with a 13-0 fourth-quarter run that turned a close contest into a 94-77 rout.
Reserve Jason Terry scored five of his game-high 22 points in that run to hand the slumping Jazz their fifth straight loss.
The win gave the Mavs their first series sweep of the Jazz since the 2004-2005 season.
"To start off the road trip with a win in this building, it builds up your confidence," Terry said. "We've got to keep the momentum, and it happens quick. [Sunday] night, we got to get it going."
On Sunday, the Mavs (51-21) face a Phoenix Suns team that entered Saturday three games out of eighth place in the Western Conference playoff race. Dallas then heads to Los Angeles for back-to-back games against the Clippers and Lakers, before closing out the road trip at Golden State and Portland.
The Mavs felt lucky to escape Saturday.
"We didn't feel like this game should have been close at all," Terry said. "We've been practicing hard, trying to play every game like the playoffs. Tonight the intensity was like the playoffs but as far as us getting out and getting a good lead on them, it wasn't happening for us. So that was frustrating.
"But in the fourth quarter, we locked in on both ends of the floor and did what we had to do."
The Jazz took a 60-58 lead into the fourth quarter, and led 70-68 with 6:21 left on Raja Bell's 20-foot jumper.
Then the Mavs took over.
Jose Juan Barea and Terry started the big run with back-to-back 3-pointers. Marion then stole the ball and dunked at the other end for a 76-70 lead. Tyson Chandler capped the run with a three-point play.
Terry scored 10 of his points in the fourth quarter, while Dallas' defense held the Jazz as a team to just 17. Utah scored only 13 points in the third quarter after leading 47-43 at halftime.
It was just one more way to lose for the Jazz, who in mid-January were as many as 14 games over .500.
"One game, we come in and turn the ball over," Jazz forward C.J. Miles said. "One game, we just can't make a shot. One game, we just can't stop anybody. It just seems like we can't put everything together at one time and it's tough to play that way."
He gave the Mavs plenty of credit.
"Defensively, they packed the paint," Miles said. "Everything we wanted to do to try to get it inside they did a good job. ... They took charges, they blocked shots, they were just active and it was tough for us."
Terry, who made 6 of 7 shots overall and 4 of 5 from beyond the arc, said the Mavs gave Utah a different look.
"We made them play a little quicker and with our flow offense, as you know, we're pretty tough to beat," he said. "But defensively we scrambled around."
The Mavs forced the Jazz into six fourth-quarter turnovers and held them to 35 percent shooting.
Al Jefferson, who was 7 of 13 for 17 points through the first three quarters, was just 2 of 8 for four points in the fourth. He was ejected in the final minute.
Miles added 16 points for Utah, but his 3-point shooting woes continued. He was 1 of 5 Saturday and is just 2 of 17 in his last four games.
"We just got into them, made it hard," Marion said of outscoring Utah 36-17 in the fourth quarter. "We took initiative. We made sure they couldn't do anything out there on the floor. That's what we did."
Dirk Nowitzki added 19 points for Dallas and ran his consecutive free throw mark to 72 with nine more Saturday. His personal record of 82 straight ranks third all-time in NBA history behind Michael Williams (97 in 1993 with Minnesota) and Jose Calderon (87 in 2008-2009 with Toronto).
Utah's 77 points were their lowest since they scored 83 in a 12-point loss to Phoenix on Feb. 11. That was Ty Corbin's first game as head coach after taking over midseason for retired Jerry Sloan. Utah entered Saturday's game four games behind eighth-placed Memphis, but have lost seven of their last nine and are 5-15 under Corbin.
"I thought the guys for the most part tried to play hard," Corbin said. "We hung in there ... they just started making shots."
Jazz G Terry wishes he could have saved one of his 3-pointers for his Arizona Wildcats, who lost to UConn earlier Saturday in the NCAA regional finals. "Tell my Arizona nation I'm very proud of them," he said. "They have a great coach and a good system in place and they got maximum effort out of those players. Sorry it didn't end the way everyone wanted it to, but the Elite Eight is a hell of an accomplishment." ... Jazz F Gordon Hayward, who led Butler to the national title game last season, was able to watch most of Saturday's other regional final, which the Bulldogs won in overtime against Florida. "I'm real excited for those guys," said Hayward, who also won a $100 bet with Jazz teammate Bell.
The Mavs, looking to be competitive during Dirk Nowitzki's twilight and beyond, are targeting center Hassan Whiteside and point guard Mike Conley in free agency, sources said.
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