This game was wide-open in the Memphis Grizzlies’ favor from the start for the majority of the game. The Dallas Mavericks, as one expects from a team with great coaching and high basketball IQ, fought to make themselves competitive in the 3rd quarter in to crunch time in the 4th quarter. After a 19-point halftime lead, the Memphis Grizzlies won against Dallas Mavericks 96-91, in an uncomfortably tight finale of a home-and-home back-to-back.
The first quarter was a polar opposite of the first quarter from a night ago. Last night, where the Grizzlies lacked energy from the jump, the Grizzlies came out the aggressor and jumping out to a big lead thanks to their defense. The Mavericks, being the road team, were really showing the effects of a back-to-back with poor shooting despite some good looks. Memphis ended the quarter on top 28-14.
The increased effort was soothing to see from the Grizzlies. In the young season, this team has shown nothing but incredible energy and hustle on both sides of the ball, so it was frustrating to see them take their foot off the gas and lose to lottery team because of it. Those games are going to happen in an 82-game NBA season, but the bounce-back in effort is important to see.
The hot start continued through the second quarter until the half. Memphis took an already big lead and busted it wide open to a 20-plus lead and maintained throughout the entire frame. The defense kept up its performance, holding Dallas to under 30% all half and for much of the game. Marc Gasol continues his hot start of starting hot, notching 15 points and 6 rebounds in the first half. It’s comforting to know either Marc or Mike Conley can shoulder the offensive load on a given night this season. The Grizzlies were leading at the half 54-35.
Dallas came out of the locker room firing in the 3rd quarter. This is a well coached team, so the Mavericks were expected to make it more competitive. Despite the Grizzlies good defense all game, their shooting wasn’t lights out save for Marc Gasol. So when Dallas’ shot started to fall in the 3rd quarter, Memphis’ offense wasn’t well equipped to beat away the comeback. Dallas ended up scoring 2 points less in the third quarter than their entire first half production--33. Memphis’ lead shrunk.
The fourth quarter was a grind for both teams involved. The pace slowed to a standstill as the Grizzlies didn’t want to make any offensive mistakes while fouling the Mavericks a ton on the defensive end. Memphis gave Dallas a ton of opportunities with giving up offensive rebounds and defensive lapses, the fouling only made the problem a lot worse. As the game grew closer to the end, it became clear why close games should be considered toss-ups for predicting future performance. There were so many close plays that could have changed the outcome of this game if they played out slightly differently.
A lost ball caused Marc Gasol to be on the ground after diving for the ball with 3 seconds on the shot clock. The ball found its way to Mike Conley who took an 87-86 lead with 3:30 left in the game. Only 14 points combined were scored after that point. Dennis Smith Jr.’s step out-of-bounds after he grabbed a steal saved the Grizzlies bacon considering how dangerous Smith can be in an open court.
Memphis took the victory by playing great defense the final few minutes of the game, even if it didn’t much help the offense get going. The outcome could have gone in either direction, but the Grizzlies did enough early in the game to earn a margin of error. Dallas seems like a problem matchup for Memphis, so the Grizzlies will definitely have to play more efficiently the next time they meet. Losses like last night are negative, but close-wins should lead to caution. Memphis should know now that they can’t look past inferior opponents, no matter if it seems like they never learn.