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Four things we learned from the Mavericks' 97-88 win over Memphis

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The Mavericks' offense was humming in an impressive win against the Grizzlies.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

This game sure felt like a must win for Dallas. After struggling against other Western Conference teams above .500, tonight seemed like a good chance for Dallas to shrug off their shooting woes and finally notch an impressive win.

After a disastrous start, the Mavericks (led by Chandler Parsons and JaVale McGee, naturally) clawed their way to a six-point lead at the half, thanks in part to three free-throws following a spectacularly dumb foul committed by Matt Barnes as Deron Williams heaved a half-court shot 0.1 seconds before the buzzer.

The Mavericks came alive in the second half, though, and by midway through the fourth, it was clear that Dallas was going to get the win the team desperately needed.

Tonight belonged to the bench

The Mavericks played some really beautiful basketball at times tonight, including a rare DIRK DUNK. But the starters also had one of the biggest garbage fires of an opening I've seen this season. The team's first field goal came almost four minutes into the game. It was still their only field goal by five minutes in, at which point they'd coughed up a 10-point lead to the GrizzliesZaza Pachulia got the Mavs through this offensive rough spot by pulling down seven boards in five minutes, though most of them were actually his own misses.

But while Dirk outpaced all Mavericks with 20 points, it was the efficiency of the bench that made a big difference tonight. Charlie Villanueva was in double digits, JaVale McGee had his best game of the season, JJ Barea was pretty useful, and Chandler Parsons apparently reads our site. Overall, it was a balanced scoring night with six Mavericks in double digits.

Speaking of Chandler Parsons...

Perhaps it's unfair to brag about the Mavericks' bench when it really only technically includes Chandler Parsons, but it seems Parsons took our concerns personally and did his best to reassure antsy Maverick fans everywhere that he is still capable of being the player we all want him to be. His presence in the game helped spark a big first quarter offensive turnaround, and he ended the game with the second-highest point total (16) on the team along with seven rebounds and seven assists.

JAVALE!

Even as a JaVale McGee fan/apologist, I was starting to get nervous. In his very limited minutes this season (he'd played a total of 63 coming into tonight's game), McGee has put up some very impressive per-minute numbers. He's on track to average 17 points and almost 17 rebounds per 36 minutes and is making just over 58 percent of his field goals. Still, his advanced stats are garbage because in those 63 minutes he's also managed to wrack up 10 fouls, commit 6 turnovers, and make just two of his six free throws.

But perhaps the most concerning aspect of his play is that he's been totally useless on defense. McGee hasn't always been the most attentive defender, but at his peak he was a fantastic shot blocker. Lately, though, he's been looking more like this, without a single block to his name this season:

Tonight was a different story. He played more minutes than he has all season and even showed up on defense. On one possession, JaVale had two blocks in succession on Zach Randolph (ok, fine, the second was actually a goaltend, but it looked awesome) and then answered the goaltending call with a sweet alley-oop on the other end. He managed to collect another two legitimate blocks to go with his 10 points (on six shots) and five rebounds.

He still hasn't played enough minutes to really know what he's going to add to the team in the long run, but tonight was very, very encouraging.

Memphis has the best alternates

Tonight the Grizzlies wore their red throw-back Memphis Sounds alternates, and I think they mad a pretty good case for the best in the league.