Final: Mavs 95, Grizzlies 94
Box Score | Highlights
Behind the Box Score
The Mavericks won the third quarter by 19 points, their best point differential in a third quarter since Nov. 28, 2015 against the Nuggets. That night, Dallas outscored Denver 25-5 in the third quarter of a home win.
The Mavs have now won three consecutive third quarters by nine points, 12 points, and 19 points.
It should be noted that Dennis Smith Jr. played every crunch-time minute in this game. The rook had a much smoother performance tonight than against the longer, more athletic Boston defense. Credit to the 19-year-old for bouncing back and producing in this one.
How ’bout this?
This game was a tale of two halves. Memphis was the more energetic team in the first half and the Mavs couldn’t make their open shots, leading to a pretty bleak 56-39 score at the break. But then the third quarter came around; typically the Mavs’ Achilles heel became their greatest strength tonight. Dallas was a different team after halftime, playing with energy on defense and in transition, chasing down 50/50 balls, and attacking the rim. It was the complete opposite of the team’s first-half performance and continued their run of strong second-half play ever since the Minnesota game.
Harrison Barnes was a bad man tonight. After his potential game-winner rolled off the rim at the end of regulation against Boston on Monday night, Barnes admitted he’s got to do better as a closer. Barnes has actually been one of the more efficient crunch-time players in the league this season — by field goal percentage at least — but of course he’s going to be critical of himself after that shot rimmed out in a tough loss. He more than made up for it tonight, though, hitting a couple big shots late in the game to keep the Mavs in front, including the game-winner of course. Barnes finished with 22 points and nine rebounds.
Dennis Smith Jr. got off to another tough start from the field, but he was huge in the third quarter, hitting three 3-pointers and generally just running the offense better. This was Smith’s third meeting with the Grizzlies this season, so by now the opponent had a pretty thorough scouting report on his strengths and weaknesses. Things were difficult at the beginning. But whatever happened or was said at halftime seemed to light a fire under Smith, and he came out in the third quarter a completely different player: way more confident, way less hesitant. That’s the kind of player Dallas hopes he can be every night.
This win brought along a couple teachable moments. For starters, Dallas missed a few free throws in the closing seconds that would have completely changed the complexion of the game. Instead of Smith taking a shot to win with 10 seconds left, the Mavs would have been taking free throws to ice the game, for example. And Smith’s game-winner attempt probably came a few seconds too early, leaving enough time for the Grizzlies to go the other way and score to go ahead. But hey, the Mavs still won the game. Everyone feels great, and they should. When they go back and watch the film of that last minute, they’ll know there’s a happy ending on the other side of that rough patch. This is going to benefit them going forward.
The Mavs (4-15) will play the Oklahoma City Thunder (7-9) on Saturday at American Airlines Center at 7:30 p.m. Central.
Final: Grizzlies 96, Mavs 91
Box Score | Highlights
Behind the Box Score
Normally the Mavs don’t pursue a ton of offensive rebounds because of the way it can affect their transition defense, but that wasn’t the case at all tonight. Dallas dominated the glass, collecting 18 offensive boards on the night. It’s the most the team has secured in a game since Dec. 9, 2015. Maybe the Mavericks are reconsidering their strategy, or maybe it was a matchup-specific gameplan. Time will tell.
Tyreke Evans had an awesome night, but he was especially dangerous late in quarters. The veteran scored seven total points in the final eight seconds of quarters in this game, with five of those points coming inside one second remaining. Teams are always going to get some last-second buckets to beat the shot clock or to close out quarters, but very rarely do you see the same player do it three times in a row throughout a game. Those points certainly came in handy for Memphis as the game wore on.
This was a wild game with a crazy fourth quarter that featured a few plays that easily could’ve gone either way. You wouldn’t expect a game between these two teams to go any other way, really; it always seems like they play close ones at FedEx Forum. The Mavs fell down by as many as 22 points tonight and mounted a brilliant comeback effort in the second half, ultimately taking the lead with just a few minutes to go in the game. But Mike Conley drained a shot clock-beating long 3-pointer to reclaim the lead and Memphis never looked back. This was a great display of intangibles like heart, grit, toughness, and so on — it would’ve been easy for the Mavs to tuck their tails between their legs after falling behind so early on, but they fought back and made things interesting. It will also prove to be a terrific learning experience for Dennis Smith Jr., who before tonight really hadn’t run the offense in certain late-game situations. The Grizzlies are very tough to beat at home, but the Mavs nearly pulled it off.
Harrison Barnes has gotten to the free throw line as often as he wants this season, but this was his first game in a while when he was also efficient from the field, too. It’s way too early in the season of course to worry about shooting percentages, because even the best players in the world go through prolonged shooting slumps here and there throughout an 82-game season. But it was nice to see Barnes finally sink some jumpers in addition to some shots around the rim. The Mavs will certainly need him.
Wesley Matthews continued his fiery shooting in this one, especially in the second half. He hit four 3-pointers in the third quarter alone to help lead the Mavs comeback. He’s had some enormous quarters throughout this season, most notably the second quarter against Golden State earlier this week. He’s more than bounced back from his 0-of-7 night against Sacramento in Game 2 of the season, which has been good to see. He probably won’t shoot 70 percent from behind the arc for the rest of the season, but the Mavs will happily take 40 percent, I can promise you that.
Devin Harris (personal reasons) and Seth Curry (left tibia stress reaction) didn’t play in this one. That meant more minutes for Matthews, especially, who played more than 40 minutes last night and was up in the mid-30s again tonight. That dude would probably have played all 96 if Rick Carlisle let him.
The Mavs (1-5) will play the Phildelphia 76ers (1-4) on Saturday at American Airlines Center at 7:30 p.m. Central.