How it happened: The Mavs couldn't hit the ground running, as they missed their first seven shots from the field. Dirk Nowitzki banked in a 3-point basket from the top of the arc with 9:40 left in the first to get the Mavs on the board.
Memphis was unwilling to switch on screen-and-rolls, and Dallas exploited that shortcoming as they drove to the lane and finished with high-percentage shots at the basket. The Mavs ended up going 11-of-18 from the field after their rough start and took a 32-16 lead into the second quarter.
Dallas carried a 26-11 run from the first quarter to the midway portion of the second quarter. The Mavs continued to keep the pressure on, as they were able to hold the Grizzlies to 2-of-8 shooting to start the period.
The tide began to turn as the quarter continued as Dallas went away from what was working earlier. The shots Memphis missed early in the game started to slowly fall. That swing saw the 21-point deficit they were facing earlier in the quarter dwindle to as low as seven with less than 90 seconds to go in the half.
Nowitzki split a trip to the free throw line with 21 seconds to go in the half to put an end to a 17-1 Grizzlies run. Despite shooting only 5-of-18 from the field in the second quarter, Dallas took a six-point lead into halftime. Marking a tale of two quarters, Dallas faced a 17-10 deficit in fast-break points going into the third quarter after taking an 10-2 lead in that category into the second quarter.
After starting 3-of-5 from the field, Nowitzki struggled to make any headway in the middle portion of the game, as he would go 1-of-7 from the field. The cold shooting carried through the rest of his teammates. Dallas was able to withstand an onslaught of second-chance opportunities by Memphis to take a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter.
Dallas once again regained its aggressive nature in the fourth quarter, forcing Memphis to get them one foul away from the penalty with 9:35 left in the game. Dallas would get into the bonus with 8:27 left in the quarter. In a very promising sign for the Mavs, they were able to build a lead as Nowitzki got some rest in the fourth quarter. They took it to Memphis by going 21-of-25 from the free throw line in the final quarter.
The Mavs were able to gut out a win on the second night of a back-to-back while not shooting well from the field. They were able to counter the grit and grind that Memphis usually brings to a game with some of their own through getting to the free throw line and attacking them in transition.
It proved to be a balanced attack for the Mavs, as they had six players in double figures, including all five starters. Nowitzki led with a game-high tying 24 points. Shawn Marion had a double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds in the victory.
Play of the game: With just under eight minutes to go in the third, Memphis forward Tayshaun Prince threw an outlet pass, but Monta Ellis resembled a cornerback in the NFL and jumped it. He stole the ball at midcourt and finished with a slam dunk. That made the score 56-49 in favor of Dallas. He would record another steal later in the period, marking the 900th of his career.
Stat of the night: Dallas took care of business as they got their first win playing a team at home when the opponent was on the second night of a back-to-back. Dallas was 12-4 last year playing teams coming into the American Airlines Center on the second night of a back-to-back.