You could say circumstances conspired against the Dallas Mavericks (11-7) in Friday’s 108-94 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies (5-13) at the American Airlines Center, but that would absolve the Mavericks who were available to play Friday of the absolute stinker they put on tape against one of the worst teams in the NBA.
Make no mistake, it was largely a young group surrounding point guard Kyrie Irving on the first night of a back-to-back for the Mavericks, but this was a bad all-around effort, Luka or no Luka, Hardaway or no Hardaway.
Memphis guard Desmond Bane lit up every Mavs defender who would try him, leading all scorers with 30 points on 11-of-20 shooting from the field and 4-of-6 from 3-point land. He grabbed four boards and handed out five assists as well. It was his second-straight 30-piece against the Mavs. Bane and forward Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 30 apiece in the Mavs’ 125-110 win over the Grizzlies on Oct. 30.
But the Grizzlies’ bench was just as lethal in this one. More on that below, as part of five stats that tell the tale of this short-handed ass-whippin’.
0-for-7: Irving’s first-half shooting
The game plan was nonexistent Friday except for maybe, “Kyrie, save us.” A comedy of errors ensued.
The Mavericks looked lethargic without two of their best three scorers on the floor, but Friday’s game against the Grizzlies was such an inopportune time for Kyrie Irving to have his worst shooting night of the season. Irving shot 0-for-7 in the first half against Memphis, including 0-for-4 on 3-point attempts.
He connected on his first field goal on a floating bank shot on the Mavs’ second possession of the third to keep Dallas within shouting distance, down 59-46 with 11:10 in the frame. But he was frustrated from there — Irving wouldn’t hit another in the third. Five of his seven third-quarter points came at the free-throw line, as offensive rhythm continued to come at a premium for the Mavs.
Irving finished the night shooting 3-of-15 from the field, including 0-of-5 from 3-point territory for a season-low 10 points in 36 minutes. He later told reporters after the game that he tweaked his foot late in the first quarter, so that explains a lot of his poor performance.
The Mavericks as a team shot just 12-of-39 from distance (30.8%) and just 34-of-92 (37%) from the field.
18-4: The Grizzlies’ pivotal second-quarter run
The Mavericks were already searching for offense, grasping at anything to stay in the game. Markieff Morris hit his first 3-pointer of the game to keep Dallas within 38-34 with 5:52 left before halftime. He scored six points in his first extended playing time of the year.
That’s when the Grizzlies erupted for an 18-4 run to seize control of the game. Fourth-year guard Desmond Bane diced through the Mavericks’ defense to score on a finger roll to start the run, then completed a 3-point play on a pull-up jumper in the lane just a little more than five minutes later to cap the 18-4 run that extended Memphis’ lead to 56-38 with under a minute left before halftime.
10: 3rd quarter points from Seth Curry
The Mavericks battled back to within single digits three separate times in the game — they just couldn’t complete the comeback. Seth Curry came off the bench to score 10 points in the third quarter to spark the Mavs’ struggling offense.
Curry showed off his playmaking ability late in third. He was directly responsible for five quick points in the span of 21 seconds, as part of a 10-0 Mavs’ run to get within 72-65 with 4:51 left in the third.
Later in the quarter, Curry hit his second 3-ball of the third to inch the Mavericks to within 74-68, but that was as close as the Mavs could get.
The Grizzlies opened the fourth quarter on a 14-3 run to crush any hope of a comeback. Curry finished with 12 points, two assists and two rebounds in 16 minutes.
4: Memphis wins on possessions out of timeouts
Memphis had a response every time the Mavericks tried to claw their way back into the game. That showed itself on the first possession out of the Grizzlies’ called timeouts. Memphis executed well on those possessions and scored on the first possession out of their timeouts four out of five times.
Two of those possessions ended with buried jumpers by guard Jaylen Nowell, who torched the porous Maverick defense for a career-high 19-point performance on his second game into a 10-day contract.
2: Memphis benchwarmers who had career nights
As lethal as Bane was as the head of the Memphis’ offensive snake, the Grizzlies bench really stepped up to torch an especially inept Mavs defense.
Nowell wasn’t the only bench piece who had a career night against the Mavericks Friday. Guard Vince Williams Jr. also scored a career-high 15 points and grabbed a career-high nine rebounds in Dallas.
Memphis torched the Mavericks for 58 bench points, compared to just 38 for Dallas. Heck, the Grizzlies bench outscored the Mavericks’ starters, 58-56. Embarrassing. Awful. God help the Mavs if they don’t find a barrel full of inspiration before they host Oklahoma City Saturday.