No doubt the Mavs could have used their starting center against the Grizzlies. After all, Memphis scored 66 points in the paint, which is simply a ridiculous number.
But the blame doesn’t all fall on backup big man Brendan Haywood. The Mavs’ team defense was atrocious in the second half. Haywood, who had six blocks, can’t be expected to make up for mistakes every defensive possession.
“We just didn’t do a good job of shutting the paint off,” Haywood said, a subtle way of pointing the finger at his teammates. “This is a team, if you look out there, there’s not a lot of 3-point shooting out there. We allowed them to score in the paint where they felt comfortable.”
That’s all true, but it doesn’t explain power forward Zach Randolph’s dominance in the second half, when he scored 21 of his 27 points. Young Ian Mahinmi, who fouled out in nine minutes, had no chance against the Grizzlies’ go-to guy. Haywood couldn’t contain Randolph, either.
“He was kicking our ass,” coach Rick Carlisle said, an accurate and succinct way to sum up the situation.
That shouldn’t have come as any surprise. Randolph had 23 points and 20 rebounds the last time these teams met, a lopsided Grizzlies win in Memphis on Jan. 15. Chandler was out sick that night.
Would Chandler make the difference? We might find out in the first round of the playoffs.