Here are my 5 takeaways from the Dallas Mavericks’ 98-88 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night at FedEx Forum:
1. FACING A GRIND TEAM: After weeks and weeks of facing teams that loves to run up and down the court, squaring off against the Grizzlies offered a different twist for the Mavs, because Memphis likes to slow the pace. It’s a uniquely different style, and it can throw you off your game. It’s like defending against the high octane run-and-shoot offense in football week after week, and then facing a team that pounds the ball down your throat. In the aftermath, the Mavs wound up scoring the fewest points they’ve scored all season. And the final 98-88 score was the first game this season the Mavs have been involved in that neither team scored at least 100 points. While this was the fourth time in the last five games the Mavs have held an opponent under 100 points, the results were not the same as the previous three occasions.
2. INJURIES IMPACTED THE GAME: Yeah, I know you don’t want to hear about a team playing a game without their key players. Sob stories are for losers. I get it. But I’m going to share this sob story with you any way. The Mavs were without three of their top eight players – Wesley Matthews, J. J. Barea and Dwight Powell — due to injuries, and their absence had an impact on this game. I agree in the next man up philosophy. Through your lens, that’s not a bad philosophy. The problem is that the “next man up” is not as talented as the man he replaced, and that in-lies the problem and that’s where the healthier team can take advantage of the situation. Teams are at their best when they have their best players playing.
3. MONSTER GAME FROM JORDAN: The Mavs missed out a golden opportunity to take advantage of a monster game from center DeAndre Jordan. The 11-year veteran finished with 17 points and a season-high 20 rebounds and was 6-of-12 from the field and 5-of-6 from the free throw line. And that physicality Memphis center Marc Gasol constantly displayed? Jordan laughed at it, because it actually played right into his hands. Everyone knows that if you look up the definition of physicality in the dictionary, you’ll probably see Jordan’s smiley face next to it. By the way, Jordan produced 13 games with 20-plus rebounds last year when he played for the LA Clippers, including five during an 11-game span.
4. MISSED CHANCE TO BREAK EVEN: The Mavs missed out on a chance to bring their record to .500 (at 8-8) with the loss to the Grizzlies. It would have been the first time the Mavs were .500 since Oct. 24 when they were 2-2 following a devastating 111-104 loss to the Atlanta Hawks after they blew a 26-point lead. The loss to the Grizzlies also has a double impact. That’s because the Mavs and Grizzlies are a divisional opponent and this loss could have major implications in case these two teams are vying for a playoff spot and finish the season with identical records. But the good thing for the Mavs is that they get to play the Grizzlies three more times this season – Mar. 2 and Apr. 5 in Dallas, and back in Memphis on Apr. 7.
5. CRUNCH TIME DIDN’T GO SO WELL: Crunch time wasn’t very, very good to the Mavs. After rookie Jalen Brunson tied the game at 84-84 with 5:412 remaining, the Mavs didn’t do a very good job of executing at either end of the court. Down the stretch, the Mavs were outscored 14-4, missed nine of their final 10 field goals and committed three turnovers. Five of those misses came from 3-point range and a few of them were questionable shots that were rushed. On the flip side, the Grizzlies converted 5-of-10 baskets during crunch time. And the only turnover they committed occurred when they intentionally let the 24-second shot clock expire with 2.8 seconds remaining when they were protecting a 10-point lead.
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