Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavericks with 26 points on 10-14 shooting as they overcame a small halftime deficit and grabbed an important victory. Zach Randolph led the Grizzlies with 25 points, former Mav Nick Calathes went for 16-5-5, and five Mavericks players scored in double-digits.
In a stretch of the season where the Mavs have largely been facing pretty bad teams, this Memphis game stood out. Not just because of the talent Memphis has, but because they've been on a tear and earlier this week passed the Mavs for 8th place. Sure, Mike Conley was out, but that's still a heck of a team, and the Mavs' biggest win in a while.
I always feel like it's games like this in which Carlisle is at his best. There's no way a team rolling out Dalembert, Blair, and Wright should be able to out-rebound a team with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol but tonight that's exactly what happened (35-24). They even out o-boarded Memphis, which has not habitually been a big point of emphasis for Carlisle's teams. And they needed it! Because when you look at two teams shooting 54% from the field, and the winning team only made two extra three-pointers and two extra free throws you don't exactly think "run away win." But so it was and it was those second-chance points that got 'em there. As one of our writers commented earlier tonight, that is some serious smoke and mirrors stuff.
The Mavs are the first team to hang 100 on Memphis in a while, and that's where their hopes for this season are. It's not a death sentence to have a bad defense, unless you think not winning a championship is death, because you can have a good enough offense. On their best days, the Mavs do. On other days not so much.
Dirk Nowitzki is on a huge tear. He's averaging 30 points per game over the last five, nine rebounds, shooting 62% from the field and 55% from three. That's ridiculous. He's seen some bad defenses in those times, but Memphis isn't one of those. And, not coincidentally, the Mavs are 4-1 in that span, losing only that close run thing vs. Houston where the man had 38-17.
The particulars of the game are relatively simple. The Mavs hung around in the first half and went into halftime down three, thanks to the world's longest replay of the most obvious call in history which resulted in the officials stripping a layup from Memphis on the grounds that it was made with .5 seconds left on the clock, but the clock actually hadn't started for longer than that. The Mavs had a great 3rd quarter, holding the Grizz to 17, and ultimately built a six point lead with a Vince Carter three as time ran out.
They came out hot for the fourth and with 8:26 left had built up a 14 point lead which, despite some back and forth, actually became a 16 point lead on a Dalembert dunk with 4:09. We have gotten to the point in this season where the Mavs having a big lead with just enough time on the clock is about the most nerve-wracking moment of the game, and indeed, the Mavs accomplished the incredibly difficult feat of having a 14 point blowout despite giving up 10 points in a one and a half minute span from 3:54 left to 1:32. As usual, they gave up the easiest possible shots to Memphis in the fastest possible way.
It NEEDS to be fixed. I would literally tell the guys to just take shot clock violations, they're so bad at not taking a way too early shot, missing it, and giving up a fast break layup on the other side.
But, a Monta two, a Dirk three, and a long Dirk two put the lead out of even Mavspocalypse reach and a Shawn Marion three with 16 seconds left was a perfect capper to a good night.
Not much else to say. Marion wasn't too visible in his return to the starting lineup and Jose Calderon was an uncharacteristic 2-9 from the floor (was it the Yay for Jose video, Jose?), but I thought Dalembert had his second terrific performance, going for 14-10 and really showing some fire against Memphis' tough front. Vince had an efficient 5-8 night, while Wright had his usual 6-8 and though Devin Harris didn't show up on the scoreboard much, he continued his strong play and ended up +11 in 17 minutes. Even the two guys who played the least, Blair and Crowder, actually made all four of their shots.
The Mavs have a couple more should-wins coming up, but the schedule gets harder before too long and it will be interesting to see if the Mavs can string together some quality wins. It will also largely determine, of course, whether they make the playoffs.