When it came to the Utah Jazz, the Dallas Mavericks had a lot on the line.

Between the tight race in the Western Conference Standings, avenging the Christmas Day loss, coming out of All-Star break with a win, and offering a possible playoff preview — Friday night was a must-win. And Dallas fell flat on its face 114-109 despite the exceptional play of Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans.

“They [Dinwiddie and Bertans] came in ready to work,” Dwight Powell said. “They did everything to learn our system quickly. So they are professionals, that is for sure.”

What the bench duo did on the court

In what felt like a playoff atmosphere, Bertans and Dinwiddie didn’t run from the moment. Bertans scored 17 points, and 14 came from his lights out shooting in the first half.

Should he be named the Latvia Laser? Maybe. When he’s hot, there are few shooters better than him. His quick release is indicative of fearlessness. His relocation highlights his basketball awareness. And his gravity on the floor opens up lanes for the famed Luka Doncic and Powell pick-and-roll.

Dinwiddie, a decisive and crafty ball-handler, found his stride as the third guard who can get hot in a hurry. He scored 20 points on 67 percent field goal shooting. And he looked like the Dinwiddie of old; the Dinwiddie of Brooklyn, before the ACL and loss of burst.

“My job is not to reinvent the wheel, but to figure out where I best plugin and compliment the group that is already here,” Dinwiddie said. “They did a great job of finding me tonight.”

When Tim Hardaway Jr. went down, the question became who fills his role? It was expected to be a job done by a committee. But if Dinwiddie plays like the calendar says 2019, come playoff time, it will be a committee of one.

“You just got to make shots,” Dinwiddie said.

Doncic isolation basketball

Where the wheels fell off for Dallas was in the final five minutes. The Mavericks went isolation heavy.

Doncic attempted to manipulate screens and take advantage of Rudy Gobert playing him one-on-one. It didn’t work. Between bumps that may or may not have been fouls and bad shot selection, Dallas let victory slip from its grasp.

Doncic’s 23-point and 11-assist double-double wasn’t close to his most efficient game. However, the Mavericks were still in a position to win without his best game. Utah appears beatable.

If the Mavericks stay away from isolation basketball down the stretch and get the best of Bertans and Dinwiddie, there is no reason why, in the remaining 22 games, the team can’t gain some traction in the crowded Western Conference.

Golden State is up next.

“I thought I got fouled,” Doncic said on trying to score on Gobert in the clutch. “They were good shots, they just didn’t go in… We just didn’t make them.”

Related Dallas Mavericks reading 

“Mavericks: The late-stretch run is about staying cool when things don’t go right.” 
“Mavericks: What to expect from Dallas coming out of All-Star break.” 

Feature image via Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports.