- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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Meltdowns don’t get much more miserable than this.
It took less than 10 minutes of game action for the Dallas Mavericks’ 25-point lead to disappear. Dallas turnovers fueled a 36-4 run by the Memphis Grizzlies, a stretch that included a team-record 24 consecutive points.
After lighting up the league’s second stingiest scoring defense for 38 points in the first quarter, the Mavs managed to score a total of 46 the rest of the game.
The third quarter was especially -- and almost historically -- brutal. The Mavs scored only five points in the frame, matching the league low for points in a quarter this season. Dallas didn’t score in the quarter until O.J. Mayo hit a free throw with 3:51 remaining. The Mavs’ first field goal of the second half came at the 3:03 mark, when Mike James made a layup.
The NBA record for fewest points in a quarter is two, set by the Mavs in the third quarter of an April 5, 1997, loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Dallas was 2-of-17 from the floor with seven turnovers in the third quarter, during which the Grizzlies outscored the Mavs by a 24-5 margin.
With both teams struggling offensively in the fourth quarter, the Mavs pulled to within two points. The Grizzlies pushed it back to a two-possession game by making all three free throws when Elton Brand was called for a foul on Marc Gasol and received a technical for protesting the call with 2:28 remaining.
After two consecutive dominant games in losing efforts, Dirk Nowitzki was a nonfactor, scoring only 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting. He did not score in the second half until hitting a pair of free throws with 24.7 seconds remaining.
The Grizzlies, who got 22 points from Zach Randolph and 21 from Marc Gasol, won despite a gruesome shooting game (37.7 percent).
What it means: The Mavs have lost three consecutive games to fall to 25-32. The odds of the Mavs shaving their beards -- which they’ve vowed not to do until they get back to .500 -- appear awfully slim. Their odds of extending the franchise’s playoff streak to 13 seasons seem puny. The 11th-place Mavs remain five games back from the final playoff seed after the Houston Rockets also lost Wednesday night.
Play of the game: The Mavs botched an inbounds play with 6.4 remaining in the first half, resulting in Darrell Arthur stealing O.J. Mayo’s pass and dashing down the court for a breakaway layup. The Mavs still led by 13 at halftime, but that play gave the Grizzlies a boost of momentum.
Stat of the night: The Mavs have blown a lead bigger than 25 points in a loss only three times in franchise history. The largest lead the Mavs have ever surrendered was 30 points in a Dec. 6, 2002, loss to the Lakers.
3dMarc Stein and Tim MacMahon