- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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How it happened: The Mavs dictated the tempo in the fourth quarter and ran away with the game in the Grizzlies’ gym.
The Mavs outscored the Grizzlies by a 32-24 margin in the final frame, when Dirk Nowitzki scored nine of his game-high 26 points.
Nowitzki stayed hot, hitting 10 of 14 shots from the floor, but the Dallas bench was the difference in this game. The Mavs had a 43-21 edge in bench points, keyed by Brandan Wright’s 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting and Vince Carter’s 13-point, 5-of-8, seven-assist outing.
The Grizzlies had allowed an average of only 88.7 points in the 11 games since center Marc Gasol returned from a knee injury. The Mavs, who shot 53.8 percent from the floor, scored 89 points in the last three quarters.
Memphis also had a good shooting night, making 53.6 percent of its field goal attempts. Power forward Zach Randolph had 25 points on 10-of-16 shooting, and shooting guard Courtney Lee added 22 points on 10-of-15 shooting.
But the Grizzlies, who led the entire first half, went flat in the second half. Memphis scored only 17 points in the third quarter, losing the lead for good late in the frame.
What it means: As far as early February wins go, this one was massive for the Mavs. The Grizzlies had a chance to pull even for eighth place in the Western Conference standings, but the Mavs now have a two-game cushion after improving to 29-21. Dallas is only a half-game behind the Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors. The Grizzlies (26-22) had won 11 of 14 games entering the night. This victory clinches the season series for the Mavs, who have defeated the Grizzlies in all three meetings between the teams.
Play of the game: A foiled Grizzlies fast break turned into an uncontested dunk by Samuel Dalembert in transition. Nowitzki came up with a steal, took a couple of dribbles and threw a long pass to Shawn Marion ahead of the Memphis defense. Marion dished to a sprinting Dalembert in the middle of the lane, and the big man finished with a hard one-hand slam that essentially served as the dagger, stretching the Mavs’ lead to 16 with 4:10 remaining.
Stat of the night: The Mavs had a 35-32 rebounding advantage, which is especially notable considering the Grizzlies are the NBA’s third-ranked team in rebounding margin and the Mavs are ranked third to last. Dalmebert delivered a double-double with 14 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.