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.