02/08/2008 Mavericks vs. Memphis
A few well-timed bursts were enough to separate from rebuilding Memphis and the Mavericks rolled to a 92-81 victory Friday night before 20,315 fans at American Airlines Center.
The Southwest Division-leading Mavs (34-15) finished up a brisk two-game homestand with their third consecutive win overall and third against the Grizzlies this season. It’s also the 10th straight win over the division foe for Dallas, which begins a two-game East Coast road trip Sunday at New Jersey.
Coming off his first career triple-double, Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 and added six rebounds. Jason Terry, Devean George and Brandon Bass each scored at least 11 off the bench. Jerry Stackhouse, back after a seven-game absence, had an efficient seven points and three assists in 11 minutes.
“He was pretty effective tonight in his minutes,” coach Avery Johnson said of Stackhouse. “Only playing around 12 to 14 and it will be the same probably the next game. We just want to make sure that he is over this issue and we will see how he recovers and if he recovers well, we will see how he feels for Sunday.
“We are definitely going to need him though if we are going to do anything this year.”
Gana Diop had his most effective game in months with 12 rebounds and eight points starting in place of injured center Erick Dampier, who was nursing a sprained right ankle. (Dampier said after the game he hopes to return before the All-Star break.) Diop remained active defensively, protected the basket (two blocks) and finished in the paint, making all four of his shots.
“I’ve been trying to stay ready,” Diop said. “I’ve been doing a lot of extra work. I came in here last night to get an hour just to stay ready, because you know how the West is and they’re going to need me in this game, and you’ve got to stay ready.”
Challenged by Johnson before the game, Diop reached double figures in rebounds for only the second time in the last 40 games. He grabbed at least 10 boards in five of the season’s first nine contests.
After trading baskets for most of the first 21 minutes, the Mavs finished the second quarter with an 11-2 run to take a 49-38 lead into the locker room. Nowitzki scored five during the spurt, while Stackhouse had a dunk and an assist on a dunk for Diop.
The Grizzlies, behind Rudy Gay and Mike Miller, were within striking distance down 10 (58-48) midway through the third quarter before Dallas reeled off 11 consecutive points. The first six in the run came from Nowitzki, who had scored 12 straight points for Dallas at one point.
So the game was decided in the middle two quarters, with the Mavs outscoring the visitors 58-35. Dallas shot 66 percent in those two periods, while the Grizzlies checked in at 32 percent.
With the result well in hand, none of the Mavs’ starters played more than 26 minutes. Josh Howard scored only eight – his first game in single digits this season – but he didn’t play in the fourth quarter.
“I sat Dirk out for a long, long time there in the second quarter and we were hoping that we would be able to do it, but we didn’t know how the game was going to go,” Johnson said. “But hey, going into this back-to-back [New Jersey and Philadelphia] and the games that we are going to be playing between now and All-Star weekend, it was good to have a game like this.”
The last-place Grizzlies are attempting to rebuild around youth and salary cap room. Memphis, losers of five straight, unloaded its best player, Pau Gasol, in last week’s blockbuster trade with the Los Angeles Lakers.