The Dallas Mavericks (22-16) somehow found a way to get bullied inside and shot out of their own gym at the same time by an otherwise lifeless Memphis Grizzlies team Tuesday in one of the more befuddling losses for the Mavs this year. The shorthanded Grizzlies (14-23), without the services of both star guard Ja Morant and starting power forward Jaren Jackson Jr., cruised to a 120-103 win at the American Airlines Center, the site where just two days earlier the Mavericks beat the Minnesota Timberwolves, one of the best teams in the NBA’s Western Conference.
Kyrie Irving led all scorers with 33 points for the Mavericks in the loss. Irving pulled down eight rebounds as well — Tuesday’s loss was Irving’s fifth game in a row with at least eight boards. Luka Dončić added 31 points, six rebounds and six assists on the night, but went to the locker room twice and appeared to be a little gimpy at times after a collision with the Grizzlies’ center Bismack Biyombo late in the first quarter.
Desmond Bane recorded his third 30-point game against the Mavericks this year, going for 32 points and nine boards to lead Memphis. Marcus Smart, who will be thrust into a more prominent scoring role since the announcement that Morant will have to have surgery and miss the rest of the season due to a shoulder injury, added 23 for the Grizzlies.
Here are five stats that tell the tale of the Mavericks’ latest letdown loss.
39: Memphis second-quarter points
How do you give up 39 points in a quarter to a Memphis Grizzlies team without Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr.? Just let the Mavs and their complete ineptitude on the defensive end of the floor show you how it’s done.
The Grizzlies went on a 20-3 run that spanned more than a four-minute chunk of the second quarter. Backup forward David Roddy scored all 11 of his points in this span, where the Grizzlies’ lead grew from five, up 36-31 with 9:03 left in the second, to 22, up 56-34 with less than five minutes left before halftime. Luke Kennard and Vince Williams Jr. each hit 3-pointers that helped extend the run as well.
43-24: Memphis’ bench scoring advantage
The Grizzlies’ reserves absolutely torched their Dallas Maverick counterparts on Tuesday. Seven Grizzlies scored in double figures in the win, and at times it seemed like the Grizzlies spare parts were taking turns dominating a porous Dallas defense.
In the middle of the second quarter it was Roddy. And when it wasn’t Roddy, it was Xavier Tillman, who had seven points in the second quarter as well. Tillman and Ziaire Williams each chipped in 14 off the bench for Memphis.
“The energy was a flatline,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said in his postgame press conference. “We tried everybody. The energy from the start — we just kind of walked into this, and they hit us from the start.”
9-of-27: Dallas’ 3-point shooting
It’s a well-known fact about this Mavs team in this modern NBA. They go as far as their 3-point shooting takes them. And on Tuesday, Dallas hit just 9-of-27 on their 3-point attempts against Memphis. Memphis went 14-of-37, so not incredibly efficient, but good enough to outscore the Mavs from deep on the night.
Dončić and Irving were the primary offenders, combining for just 4-of-15 shooting from beyond the arc against the Grizzlies.
54-33: Memphis’ rebounding advantage
But not only were the Mavs outshot on their home floor, they were also bullied on the boards all night long. The Grizzlies out-rebounded the Mavericks 54-33 overall and 18-8 on the offensive glass.
It was, to be generous, a putrid performance bereft of all hustle or heart.
“Their physicality was just too much for us,” Kidd said.
8: Memphis fourth-quarter turnovers
Even though Dallas went into the fourth quarter down by 19, there was a comeback to be had if the Mavericks wanted one. Memphis tried to let Dallas back into the game by getting careless with the ball and committing eight turnovers in the fourth quarter, but the Mavs didn’t take advantage of those additional chances with the ball.
The Mavericks scored just 20 in the final frame and went quietly into the good Dallas night.