Final Score: Mavs defeat Grizzlies, 111-99

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

In the third game of the young season, the Mavs pulled out a solid win against a Grizzlies team also on the second night of a back-to-back.

The Mavericks beat the Grizzlies 111-99 in their third game of the season, taking them to a record of 2-1. Your scoring leader was Dirk Nowitzki with 24. Shawn Marion had an insane night, with 21 points, 14 rebounds and 4 assists. All five starters finished in double figures. The Mavs led the entire game after overcoming a Memphis 7-0 start, though Memphis tied it once and kept it close at points.

The first quarter started off rough for the good guys, with the Grizzlies keeping the Mavs scoreless for the first three plus minutes. But that quickly changed as the Mavs either found their groove or the Grizzlies decided not to defend or a little bit of both. Memphis seemed absolutely unwilling to switch on pick and rolls, and the Mavs took full advantage. Marion had 5 early rebounds and Dirk had a pretty ridiculous dunk that set Mavs Twitter afire. The team found some nice transition offense(!) off of the Grizzlies' misses, and the pocket passing was especially pretty to watch. At the end of the first quarter, the Mavs were up 32-16 on 44% shooting and 15 rebounds, to the Grizzlies' 35.3% shooting and 10 rebounds. Basically, the Grizzlies looked like a tired team on the second night of a back to back, and the Mavs seemed fresh (despite being in the same situation).

The second quarter continued the Mavs hot scoring but they cooled off quickly. Both teams traded sloppy possessions on both ends of the floor. After only one turnover in the first quarter, the Mavs racked up 6 more. Memphis started to find some open corner looks that the Mavs' zone defense provided, and started to eat away at the Mavs' lead with a 15-1 run towards the end of the half. Halftime saw the Mavs' lead, which had been as much as 21, down to just 6. Dallas was only 5 for 18 in the second quarter, and the shooting percentages evened out with Memphis shooting 39% to the Mavs' 39%.

The third quarter didn't see much of a change from the play and pace of the second quarter, as both teams really started to show that they were each on the second night of a back to back. The Mavs were able to maintain their lead despite some pretty bad sets, including a particular stretch of 20 horrible seconds I'd love to erase from my memory. At times it really appeared the Mavs were defending well, but in all honesty, it was more the Grizz making mistakes and seeming tired. At times, Marion seemed to single-handedly keep the team in it, grabbing 11 boards through 3. The Mavs were up by 10 at the end of the quarter.

The fourth quarter saw the Mavs build their lead and really never come close to giving it back. Dirk had some incredibly clutch shooting and the Mavs continued to exploit the available pocket passes and the Grizzlies' general confusion on defense to cruise to a 111-99 victory.

Some game notes:

  • Shawn Marion had himself quite a game, my goodness. In addition to 21 points / 14 rebounds / 4 assists he also had 2 blocked shots. Everything with the caveat of "it's early," but it's becoming hard not to see him as crucial to the team's success if they have any shot at the playoffs.
  • Passing and offense were certainly on full display tonight. As we all thought would happen, this offense can and will exploit a weak defense. Though Memphis is certainly considered to be one of the stronger defenses in the league, they seemed to be having an off night and Dallas often made them look silly.
  • Related, Monta Ellis quietly had a nice, efficient game. He drove a good amount and created opportunities at the rim, and had good shot selection. If this is Monta Basketball, I'm thrilled with it.
  • I mentioned earlier that all the starters were in double figures, and that included Dalembert, who actually had a pretty nice game. Not super sure why he sat in favor of Blair to end the game, but 14 points, 9 rebounds and 2 assists? I'll take it.
  • Ellington was a DNP-CD. Carlisle talked in his post game press conference about this game being match-up dependent. Though he didn't specifically elaborate on why Ellington didn't get any minutes tonight, that certainly seemed to be the indication.

Though it is of course early in the season, this game was really encouraging from a lot of perspectives. For me, the most encouraging part of it was that this is the kind of game the Mavs frequently found ways to lose last season. For the two wins, at least, they were able to maintain their leads and find a way to win.  That's something I think we can all get behind as fans.

See y'all against the Lakers on Tuesday night!

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