The Dallas Mavericks really needed this win tonight to create some space between themselves and the Utah Jazz, who were one game behind them for the seventh spot in the playoffs. With the Houston Rockets losing the other night, the Grizzlies secured a position in the playoffs. What seed they will get is still up in the air, and that is what made tonight's game that much more pivotal.
In the first quarter, both teams were off to a slow start. But after getting warmed up, the Grizz jumped out to a seven point lead. Zach Randolph came out strong in the first with eight points, and so did David Lee for Dallas with six points. After Memphis gained the lead, Dallas quickly cut it down to one and were only down three after the end of the first quarter. After injuring his groin in the first quarter, J.J. Barea returned to the court and had five points at halftime. The Grizz tightened up defensively in the first quarter and had four steals as a team. In the second quarter, however, Memphis became lackadaisical on the defensive end and Dallas scored 10 straight to gain a seven point lead. But then the Grizz surged back and regained the lead with about three minutes left in the second thanks to a Tony Allen layup. The Grindfather had a great performance in the first half with 13 points and three steals. For Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki had 10 points at the break. Both teams struggled with turnovers in the first half. Memphis had 10 while Dallas had 9 themselves.
The Grizzlies started out the third quarter strong defensively, but both teams were cold on the offensive end. But quickly Dirk Nowitzki got going (he had 21 on the night), and so did Wesley Matthews, who had three threes in the quarter. The game was knotted at 65, but Devin Harris converted an and-one that put Dallas up three with less than two minutes to go. Harris was the star for Dallas in the quarter as he had 12 points. For Memphis, Allen continued his strong play from the first half with 6 more points in the third. Turnovers continued to be a problem for Memphis, and they had 15 as a team total.
Vince Carter, who had an otherwise fairly quiet night, did have this awesome circus shot:
Going into the fourth, Memphis was down six. Rapidly, Dallas expanded its lead to 10. After a slow start from beyond the arc, the Mavericks ended up with 12 threes in the game. Memphis quickly found themselves in a 17 point hole with less than eight minutes to go. The Grizzlies' defense fell off the rails in the fourth quarter, and Dallas took advantage of it. Though the Grizzlies cut the deficit down to nine, Dallas pulled away again as the clock winded out.
Memphis made things interesting when they cut it to five with less than a minute left, but an offensive rebound by Dallas sealed up the victory for the Mavs. On the night, Dallas shot 50% from the field, while Memphis shot 40.2%.
Despite Tony Allen's 25 point performance, Memphis was unable to pull out a victory tonight on the road. Now, they turn right back around to face the Golden State Warriors at home, which will be a tall task.