For several long minutes following Thursday night’s 94-91 loss to the Dallas Mavericks, Jazz point guard Earl Watson sat at his locker, facing away from the room, almost motionless. His head was bowed and he was obviously deep in thought.
Basically, the 32-year-old was smoldering.
“We had a good opportunity to go from a good team to a great team and we let it slip away,” he said later. “Give them credit, they beat us. But at the same time I think we had a chance to come in and win and it’s tough.”
Down by 13 after a bad first half, the Jazz fought back against a tired-looking Dallas team that had played the previous night in Los Angeles. Utah made a run late in the third quarter and scrambled to seize control in the final minutes but could not make the plays to win.
One key moment for the Jazz came late in the third quarter after Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki slapped the ball out of Derrick Favors’ hands after play had been stopped. Watson saw it as a sign of derision toward his young teammate and he let Nowitzki know about it by running up to the former MVP and attempting to swat the ball out of his hands.
Watson was whistled for a technical foul. Several seconds later, Favors showed his own frustration by throwing the ball, which landed in the stands. According to league rules, that’s an automatic ejection.
Watson was frustrated that the Jazz missed an opportunity to improve themselves as a team. However, he also seemed to be bothered by Nowitzki’s actions.
“I saw him smack the ball out of Fav’s hand, so I did the same thing (to Nowitzki),” Watson said. “I guess it’s the second one that counts. Maybe next time I’ll be first.”
Nowitzki was not given a technical for his part in the run-in with Watson and Favors. But he did get T’d up as the first half ended when he slammed the ball to the floor in frustration. He later berated referees at mid-court.
Frustrated by something in the second half, Nowitzki acted as if he was going to hand the ball to an official following a stoppage of play. At the last second he pulled the ball away.
No technical was called.
Ultimately, Watson was seething over the way the Jazz lost the game. Yes, they play well in stretches and showed a great deal of toughness and team unity.
“I’m not into moral victories, man,” he said. “I’m into wins and losses. I don’t care about stats, I don’t care about anything but winning and losing. You couldn’t pay me enough money to be happy to lose. (Moral victories don’t) mean anything.”