Final: Mavs 104, Grizzlies 100
Box Score | Highlights
Behind the Box Score
After scoring just 0.870 points per possession in the first quarter, the Mavericks offense ignited in the middle quarters for 1.476 and 1.273 points per possession in the second and third, respectively.
Nerlens Noel became the first Maverick to have a 15-point, 15-rebound game before his 23rd birthday since Dirk Nowitzki. He joins the German, Roy Tarpley, Jason Kidd, and Samaki Walker as the only other Mavericks to achieve that feat before turning 23.
Dirk scored 10 points tonight and is now just 38 points away from scoring 30,000 for his career. He’ll become only the sixth player in NBA history to reach that milestone. With the Mavs’ next four games at home after this one, there’s a really good chance he’ll do it in Dallas.
This is now three wins in a row at home for the Mavs, and they had another solid showing against a quality team. Protecting home floor is a particularly relevant point of conversation because the Mavs’ next four games come at home, with the first coming against the Thunder on Sunday night. Dallas had to grind this one out after holding a nine-point lead for a while, but braved a Grizzlies comeback behind a Dirk Nowitzki strip against Marc Gasol, an improbable key play. But this was a big close-out win for the Mavericks, especially after what happened against Atlanta two nights ago. The young Mavs have to figure out how to close the door on the opposition, and tonight could prove to be an important step in that growth process for the team.
Nerlens Noel got his first start as a Maverick tonight and he did not disappoint. The 22-year-old finished with 15 points, 17 rebounds, two assists, two blocks, and a steal. The last few games he’s had to guard much bigger, much stronger centers (DeMarcus Cousins, Hassan Whiteside, and Dwight Howard), and while Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph fit a similar physical profile as those other guys, Noel does possess a quickness advantage over the Grizzlies’ bigs, and that was on display tonight. One play which stood out most of all came in the first half, when Noel ran the floor with Seth Curry and Dallas created an alley-oop opportunity within six seconds of the possession.
That’s pretty astonishing athleticism from a 6-foot-11 center. Noel’s future is extremely bright if he can continue to develop, but he’s already a dynamic force at his positions on both ends of the floor.
Perhaps the most underrated element of Noel’s game, however, is his passing ability. These aren’t plays we typically see centers make.
Noel is an exceptional athlete for his position and he’s good around the rim, but the passing makes him even more dangerous, especially in the pick-and-roll. If he can pass like that out of short rolls more often, it prevents defenses from packing the paint because they risk giving up wide-open 3-pointers on the outside. That’s got to be a terrifying proposition for opponents.
Seth Curry is still doing good stuff. This was his third straight game with at least 20 points, now the longest such streak of his career. He shot well in halfcourt and transition opportunities, changed speeds off the dribble, and continued to create for others within the offense. He’s becoming a pretty dang good player, and that can easily get lost in all of the Noel hype, and Harrison Barnes having another big fourth quarter, and Dirk’s approach to 30K, and so on.
The Mavs (25-36) will play the Oklahoma City Thunder (35-26) on Sunday at American Airlines Center at 7:30 p.m. Central.