MEMPHIS — In a span of about six minutes late during Sunday’s 129-127 electrifying overtime triumph over the Memphis Grizzlies at FedEx Forum, Dallas Mavericks center Salah Mejri went on such a tear that he was able to stitch together his very own personal Top 10 highlight reel.
Not only did Mejri grabbed an offensive rebound and scored the basket that tied the game at 112 apiece with 1.5 seconds left in regulation, once the overtime period started the four-year veteran from Tunisia collectively put the Mavs on his back and carried them across the finish line.
Mejri opened the overtime session by going on a personal 7-0 run to stake the Mavs to a 119-112 lead. But it wasn’t just the points that mesmerized his teammates. It was the dominating manner in which he took control of the game that had the players on the Mavs’ bench all giddy and stunned the crowd of 16,744.
Mejri started the overtime period with a slam dunk, then he blocked a shot, and followed that up by negotiating another tomahawk dunk via a feed from Dorian Finney-Smith. That was followed by a defensive rebound by Mejri and a step-back 3-pointer, coupled with a little dance between he and teammate Courtney Lee after the Grizzlies stopped the carnage by signaling for a timeout.
“He was great,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He did almost everything. He protected the rim, he got rebounds, he got put-backs, he hit threes, he drove and dunked it, he made a couple of nice passes.
“He showed us the package.”
Mejri finished the game with a career-high 19 points and a season-high four blocked shots, and he also collected nine rebounds and three assists in 32 minutes.
“Yeah, I showed them the package,” Mejri said. “The crossover, that’s the only thing you guys didn’t see.
“You saw the threes, you saw the blocks and everything.”
Despite the efforts by Mejri, the Grizzlies worked their way back into the game and actually had a chance to win it after Daryl Macon split a pair of free throws, leaving the Mavs clinging to a slim 129-127 lead with 10.5 seconds left. But Deion Wright misfired on a 3-pointer at the buzzer and the Mavs got out of town with a 32-48 record.
Mejri tallied nine of his points in the fourth quarter when the Mavs rallied from a 15-point second half deficit and rattled the Grizzlies.
“I think everything happened in the last five minutes in the (second) half,” Mejri said. “Before that I was having a very normal game.
“But then I got another block, I got the (basket) to tie the game, I got hot.”
And once Mejri got hot, it was no stopping him.
“I love pressure,: he said. “I’m a pressure guy. Whenever there’s pressure and there’s like the game is on the line, I love that feeling.”
Mejri was deeply involved in one of the most entertaining trips up the court for the Mavs all season. Trailing, 112-110, when Devin Harris collected a defensive rebound with just 15.3 seconds remaining in regulation play, Finney-Smith, Trey Burke, Macon and Finney-Smith again all missed shots before Mejri powered his way inside to collect the fourth offensive rebound for the Mavs on the same trip up the court and scored to deadlock the game at 112-112 with a mere 1.5 seconds to go.
“He came up huge, obviously,” Dwight Powell said of Mejri. “Nothing that we haven’t seen him do in practice and before.
“So it’s amazing to see him stay ready throughout this whole season, and a moment like that we’re happy to see him shine like that, because he works hard and he deserves it.”
Besides Mejri, the Mavs did roll out a balanced attack as seven players scored 12 or more points. That includes Burke (24 points, five assists), Justin Jackson (16 points), Finney-Smith (16 points, 12 rebounds), Powell (15 points), Jalen Brunson (12 points, a career-high 10 assists), and Macon (12 points, seven assists).
Also, Dirk Nowitzki scored just two points, but he grabbed five rebounds and joined Kevin Garnett, Karl Malone, Tim Duncan and Robert Parish as the only players in NBA history with at least 19,000 defensive rebounds.
By contrast, Powell collected the 1,000th defensive rebound of his five-year career on Sunday.
“It’s nothing compared to 10,000,” Powell said. “I’ve got a long ways to go. I’m happy for Dirk.
“Obviously that’s a big milestone because there’s not very many guys in that (category), and I appreciate benchmarks.”
Memphis led 26-24 after the first quarter 56-52 at the half, and 78-63 with 5:09 left in the third quarter before the Mavs started turning the tables on the Grizzlies. And the table turning started when Mejri took over the game in the fourth quarter and in the overtime period.
“He’s been working on his game,” Carlisle said. “When he developed the three, people come out on you it opens up the drive and other things.”
NOTES: Even after all of the special things the Mavs have planned for Dirk Nowitzki before, during and after Tuesday’s regular season home finale against the Phoenix Suns, proprietor Mark Cuban insists the regular season finale in San Antonio on Wednesday won’t be anti-climatic. “We’ve had such a great rivalry for so many years (with the Spurs), it won’t be anti-climatic,” Cuban said. “It’ll still be special. And (the Spurs will) be playing for something too, so that’ll make it even interesting.”. .The Las Vegas summer league is usually reserved for first- and second-year players, and for players trying to re-store their NBA career. But proprietor Mark Cuban said rookie Luka Doncic will not play in this Las Vegas summer league, which is July 5-15. And that’s mainly because Doncic has already established himself as one of the NBA’s best players after averaging 21.2 points, 7.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists this season. ”Maybe he comes out (to Las Vegas) just to see his new teammates, but there’s no way he plays summer league,’ Cuban said. “There’s no reason to. How is he going to benefit from it?”. .When the Mavs acquired Rajon Rondo in a trade with the Boston Celtics on Dec, 18, 2014, the other player Dallas obtained in that deal was then-rookie forward Dwight Powell. Over four years later, proprietor Mark Cuban said: “Dwight has gone from being a throw-in to be the best player in that deal by far. Dwight’s the hardest worker in the NBA. I don’t think there’s anybody who even comes close to him. It just shows. A lot of people think well you can’t really get better after 22 or 23. Dwight’s the exception, and I think others can be the exception as well. He just works so hard and he’s just gotten so much smarter in the game. The idea of Dwight knocking down threes and having one of the best finish rates around the rim would have been crazy when we traded for him four or five years ago. Now he’s looking at an extension.”. .Maxi Kleber (load management), Kostas Antetokounmpo (left knee soreness) and Doncic (right thigh contusion) sat out Sunday’s game. It’s the fourth time in the last five games that Doncic has missed with the same injury. “I think he’s doing better and better each day,” Carlisle said of Doncic. “It’s certainly a possibility he’ll play on Tuesday (at home against Phoenix), but we’ll see where he is tomorrow and go from there.”