The Memphis Grizzlies glided into Wednesday's matchup against the Dallas Mavericks on a high note after winning the first two games of a back-to-back-to-back stretch, but a 34-point second half effort undercut their attempt to clinch the trifecta on the road. Marc Gasol put together one of the best 3-13 shooting nights of the season. He adeptly anchored Memphis' interior defense with four blocks, grabbed more offensive (three) and defensive (seven) rebounds than anyone else on the team and dished out a game-high seven assists, but he couldn't keep Memphis afloat on offense while Shawn Marion (16 points, seven rebounds) and Dirk Nowitzki (23 points, 10 rebounds) championed a decisive 21-4 run in the final period to seal a 95-85 Dallas win.
In the early action, the Grizzlies showed no signs of fatigue. They jumped out to a 51-47 halftime advantage behind 53.5 percent shooting and 16 assists on 23 made shots. Marc Gasol notched five points and rebounds, but his six first half assists made the biggest impact. He helped the offense operate inside-out and in the open floor with his vision and awareness, as Tony Allen, Marreese Speights, Dante Cunningham, Gilbert Arenas and Mike Conley all used his help on made jumpers. For the Grizzlies, jumpers weren't exactly easy to come by, either. Janosch Ferda (@j0Shi_f) of SB Nation's Mavericks blog, Mavs Moneyball, noted that Memphis shot 17-33 within 10 feet, but just 18-50 from mid-range and beyond. That problem reared its head in the second half.
Dirk Nowitzki masked a fairly underwhelming defensive first half of basketball from Dallas with some pretty fall-away jumpers and a game-high 11 points before the intermission, and Delonte West supplemented Dirk's scoring with eight of his 14 on a pristine 4-4 shooting, but the Mavs put the game away with defense. Shawn Marion turned Rudy Gay (4-12 FGs, eight points, three turnovers) into a ghost for the final two periods -- Gay didn't score a single point on five shot attempts in the second half -- and only O.J. Mayo seemed to have any scoring ability left in the tank. Mayo scored 15 of his 17 points after the break, while his teammates combined to shoot just 21.9 percent and effectively opened the door for a big run by Dallas.
The Grizzlies snatched a 73-68 advantage after a put-back by Quincy Pondexter with exactly 10 minutes remaining in the game, but Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle subbed Shawn Marion back into the game and turned the next seven minutes into a nightmare for Memphis. Maybe it was fatigue, maybe it was good defense, but the Grizzlies had a real difficulty attacking the paint down the stretch.
Nowitzki, Marion and Terry combined for 23 of the Mavs' final 27 points, including all baskets during a 21-4 run that put Dallas up for good. During that stretch, the Grizzlies struggled to run their offense and settled for longer jumpshots. They shot 1-11 in those seven minutes, and only three attempts came closer than 10 feet from the rim. Long rebounds and untimely turnovers transformed into transition opportunities for Dallas, which was all the Mavs needed to secure a 95-85 victory.
Dallas is now just two one-thousandths of a point behind Memphis in the Western Conference standings for the No. 5 seed.
For all of Wednesday's NBA box scores, check out SI.com's NBA scoreboard.