Mavs hold off Grizzlies in 2nd exhibition test

Mavericks vs. Grizzlies

Dirk Nowitzki scores 20 points and grabs six rebounds in the Mavericks 95-90 win over the Grizzlies.

MEMPHIS — Two nights after coming up just short on their home floor following a 94-92 defeat to open the preseason against the New Orleans Pelicans, the Dallas Mavericks were right back in action against a familiar foe.

Playing yet another Southwest Division rival that the Dallas team will see four times during the regular season, the Mavericks stepped into FedExForum hungry for a win against the Memphis Grizzlies. And after sprinting out to a big lead before holding on late for a 95-90 road win, the new-look Mavericks (1-1) were able to savor their first taste of victory.

“Tonight, we moved it well and made a lot of good things happen,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said while summing up the night. “Our defense was solid most of the game, and then we got into fouling too much in the fourth. But we overcame it.”

Minus projected starting point guard Jose Calderon for the second of what’s expected to be at least a three-game absence due to a strained left hamstring, the Mavericks continued to roll out a first unit featuring 25-year-old rookie Gal Mekel, shooting guard Monta Ellis, small forward Shawn Marion, 11-time All-Star power forward Dirk Nowitzki and center Samuel Dalembert. The Mavs were also without big man Brandan Wright, who led the team with 14 points in Monday night’s loss before being sidelined with a sore left shoulder.

Down two teammates, Nowitzki took matters into his own hands in the early going by draining vintage jump shots to help the Mavs seize a lead. Sixth man Vince Carter followed suit, helping the Mavs take a double-digit advantage as large as 13. The visiting Mavericks then escaped into the second stanza with a 31-19 margin under their belt.

But the Grizzlies (0-2) would keep the Mavs from pulling away in the early minutes of the second, starting the period with six straight points before Carter and Dalembert extended the lead back out to double digits. Dalembert and fellow new addition DeJuan Blair then began to assert themselves in the interior to push the lead to as much as 17 before taking a 51-40 lead into the halftime intermission.

Despite losing the rebounding battle in the first half, 26-19, the Mavs jumped out to the lead at the midway mark by outshooting the Grizzlies from the field, 54.3 percent to 43.2 percent. Carter’s 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting also led all scorers as the Mavs surrendered just nine giveaways through two quarters compared to 17 two nights prior.

With both teams trading baskets early in the third, Nowitzki’s four-point play from the top of the key was a sign of things to come for No. 41 and his teammates in the quarter. Behind their go-to scorer, the Mavericks took full control of the scoreboard by building up a 23-point lead. Carlisle then sat his main contributors as the team took a 79-64 advantage into the fourth.

However, the lead was all but safe as Carlisle saw the separation shrink to seven, 82-75, with 9:40 remaining to force a timeout with the team’s young stars and roster hopefuls on the court. The coach was forced to burn another timeout when Memphis trimmed its deficit to three, 82-79, with 8:13 left on the clock. But Carlisle couldn’t keep the Grizzlies from gaining control of the scoreboard, seizing their first lead of the night on Jamaal Franklin’s jumper to make it an 83-82 score.

Back-to-back baskets by second-round pick Ricky Ledo would settled the Mavs down, however, before a 3-pointer by veteran Renaldo Balkman created even more space to make it a 91-88 score in Dallas’ favor. Devin Ebanks’ score with 44.2 seconds left then iced the game as the Mavs eventually walked off the floor victoriously.

“The guys that were in there gave up the lead and then they got it back, so we get out of here alive,” Carlisle matter-of-factly concluded.

Finishing with 20 points on 7-for-10 shooting in 23 minutes of work, Nowitzki added six rebounds to lead the way for the Mavs.

“Look, he’s been efficient really in both games. He just didn’t get a lot of shots in the first game,” the coach said while stacking Wednesday night’s outing up to Nowitzki’s six-point, four-rebound effort in 22 minutes of work during the preseason opener.

Carter added 12 points off the bench. Meanwhile, Ellis pitched in 11 points and eight assists and Dalembert tallied up 11 points and seven rebounds.

“Offensively we’re still working on things,” Dalembert said. “You know, we’re working on them in practice but transitioning them into the game. And as you can see, when we started the game we got a good chemistry going and then we’ve still got some work to do.”

“We have a lot of scoring on this team and a lot of guys who can do a lot of things. … With the amount of scorers we have and the guys that can do a lot of things, we believe in each other. I think everybody has bought in from the beginning on sharing the ball, and you’re starting to see that. That mentality in the very beginning of the season is going to carry us through the rest of the year,” Carter added of the Mavs’ offensive firepower.

Jon Leuer led five Grizzlies in double figures with 17 points off the bench, but the Mavericks’ 45.6 percent shooting bettered the Grizzlies’ 43.4 percent and made up for a 51-45 rebounding deficit. The Mavs also managed to cut down on their turnovers from the game before, committing 16 giveaways compared to 28 against New Orleans.

The team will now take Thursday off before returning to the practice court Friday. The Mavericks return to action Monday night at American Airlines Center, hosting the Orlando Magic. The game will air locally on TXA 21 at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting