- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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How it happened: The Grizzlies responded every time the Mavs made a run.
The Mavs never got a lead.
It looked like the Grizzlies would roll to a rout for much of the first half, but the Mavs went on a 12-2 run before halftime and tied it up early in the third quarter. Memphis answered with a 16-2 run and stretched its lead to as large as 17 points.
The Mavs battled back with a 14-2 spurt and eventually trimmed to the lead to just three points midway through the fourth quarter. The Grizzlies’ Rudy Gay (26 points) and Zach Randolph (17 points, 13 rebounds) had three-point plays off of offensive rebounds on the next two possessions to spark an 8-0 run.
It was rather amazing that the Mavs managed to stay in the game, as much as O.J. Mayo struggled in his return to Memphis, where he spent the first four seasons of his career. Mayo, who was hounded by All-Defensive shooting guard Tony Allen, didn’t get a bucket until the 4:24 mark of the third quarter. He finished with 10 points – half his average – on 3-of-11 shooting and committed five turnovers.
Dominique Jones, forced to be the primary point guard after Darren Collison left due to an illness, is the primary reason the Mavs didn’t get routed. He matched his career high with 13 rebounds and dished out seven assists.
Shawn Marion did an admirable job battling Randolph as an undersized power forward, putting up a team-high-tying 14 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks.
Once again, however, the Mavs made too many mistakes to beat a good team on the road. They committed 24 turnovers.
What it means: The Mavs put up a respectable fight, especially the reserves, but it wasn’t enough to prevent them from losing for the fifth time in six games. That dropped the Mavs (12-15) to three games below .500 for the first time this season, while the Southwest Division-leading Grizzlies improved to 18-6. The Mavs fell to 2-10 against teams with winning records. Their next four foes are above .500.
Play of the game: Are posters made of backup centers? If so, Brandan Wright will be prominently featured in Marreese Speights’ poster. After catching the ball a little bit above the right elbow, Speights took two hard dribbles toward the rack and soared for an and-1 tomahawk slam over Wright. Speights missed the free throw, but his dunk was the exclamation point on the Grizzlies’ 20-3 run in the third quarter.
Stat of the night: The Mavs’ 16 points in the first quarter was their lowest in an opening frame this season. They were 7-of-24 from the floor and committed seven turnovers in the quarter, digging a nine-point hole.