Nash picks up slack for ailing Nowitzki

DALLAS (AP) -- Although the Dallas Mavericks were coming off a rare loss and were without Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash didn't have anything special planned.

It just seemed that way.

Nash scored 17 points in the first quarter as Dallas built a big
lead, then took over again when things got close in the third
quarter to lead the Mavericks past the Memphis Grizzlies 104-87
Saturday night.

"It wasn't something I really thought about before the game,'' said Nash, who had 26 points and seven assists in 33 minutes. "I was just being myself, playing hard and being aggressive. It was paying off, so you go with it.''

The Mavericks bounced back from a loss in San Antonio to win
their 12th straight at home, counting one from last season. Their
11-0 start at American Airlines Center ties the club record to
begin a season set in 1983-84.

Dallas will try breaking that Tuesday night against Indiana, the team that ended the Mavs' season-opening winning streak at 14 -- one shy of the NBA record. Nowitzki, who has missed the last two games, will be a game-time decision.

"If it's not 100 percent, I probably won't go,'' Nowitzki said. "It's getting better, but not quite where I want it to be. It was just too sore today. I couldn't run and jump. It wasn't even close to 50 percent.''

Shawn Bradley had 12 points, 18 rebounds and eight blocks. Dallas is 24-0 the last three seasons when he has a double-double.

"The guy who was unsettling for us was Bradley,'' Grizzlies coach Hubie Brown said. "He was very disruptive.''

Memphis came in having won four straight, matching the most in its brief history. But the Grizzlies were playing their fifth game in seven nights, including an overtime game at home the night before, and they came out sluggish.

Nash took advantage by pushing a frenetic pace.

Driving, dishing and pulling up for 3-pointers on fast breaks, he either scored or assisted on eight of Dallas' first nine field goals. When Nick Van Exel replaced him with 1:13 left in the first quarter, Nash had personally outscored the Grizzlies 17-15 and the Mavs were up by 18.

"Steve Nash came out on fire,'' Memphis center Lorenzen Wright said. "He was the difference in the beginnning.''

Memphis got within 10 at halftime on a jumper by Jason Williams, who then made two shots to open the third quarter to make it a six-point game.

The Mavericks had gotten sloppy because they were too
comfortable shooting jumpers. So Nash got them running again.

He had seven points during a 13-2 run, starting with a layup on
a 1-on-3 fast break. He also had a great assist that gave Bradley
an easy dunk. Later in the quarter he threw an alley-oop to Michael
Finley from the top of the key, stretching the lead to 78-58.

Nash said the burst just sort of happened.

"Sometimes aggressive for us is getting open for shots, and
sometimes it's taking it to the bucket,'' Nash said. "We can do

Finley had 22 points and Walt Williams had 15, including 12 in
the second quarter, as the Mavericks beat the Grizzlies for the
ninth straight time.

Memphis' Pau Gasol had 16 points and three rebounds one night
after getting 29 and 12 against Houston. The other four starters
had a combined 18 points, with 12 from Jason Williams. Drew Gooden
had just two points in 14 minutes.

"Our first group didn't have their legs,'' Brown said.

Gordan Giricek, who had 29 the first time Memphis played Dallas, led the Grizzlies with 17 points. Shane Battier had 13 and Stromile Swift had 10.

Wesley Person, the NBA leader in 3-point accuracy, was 0-for-4
overall and 0-for-1 on 3s in 21 minutes.

Game notes
This was the fifth game this season that Dallas nver
trailed. ... The Grizzlies went 7:12 between field goals in the
first quarter, missing eight shots during the drought. They were
5-of-20 in the quarter. ... Dallas forward Adrian Griffin returned
from a partially separated right shoulder wearing a stabilizer
under a white T-shirt. It looked like a box strapped to his upper
bicep and really stood out because he cut his left sleeve at the
shoulder. ... Bradley threw up a long jumper as the third quarter
ended -- and Swift blocked it into the stands.


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