DALLAS (AP) – Balance paid off in different ways for the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night in a 111-99 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.
First, there was the balance of having six players score in double figures, led by Dirk Nowitzki’s 24 points.
There was also the balance of scoring 40 points, in 46 attempts, from the free throw line on a night when Dallas shot just 40 percent from the field.
And there was the balance of playing at both ends of the court.
Shawn Marion did all that as well as anyone Saturday. His double-double of 21 points and 14 rebounds — six offensive — included making 9 of 10 free throws. His two blocked shots were a game high.
“We can score the ball like we should, but we’ve got to play defense too,” Marion said. “We did that early and took them out of their rhythm.”
The 6-foot-7 Marion drew the assignment of covering 6-1 point guard Mike Conley in the first half.
Conley made just 2 of 6 field goal attempts and scored eight points in the first half.
“(Marion) loves taking on a challenge,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “Any time you take Conley out of a game, that’s important.
“I can think of less than five, maybe six guys that can guard a guy like Conley for big minutes and then guard a guy like Zach Randolph and then any other kind of guy in between.”
Carlisle then invoked the names of LeBron James and Hall of Famers Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.
“I’ve heard that before,” Marion said with a shrug. “Especially Pippen. I’ve been compared to him since I came in. I want to be the best I can.”
Dallas missed its first seven shots before Nowitzki banked in a 3-pointer 2:20 into the game. The Mavericks went on a 13-0 run over 2 ½ minutes to take a 16-6 lead they never lost.
Memphis came no closer than four points, in the third quarter.
Conley said, “We dug ourselves into a hole early, and we can’t start games that way. You can’t play from behind against good teams.”
One night after trailing by 16 points at the end of the first quarter in a loss at Houston, Dallas bounced back with its own 16-point lead over the Grizzlies, 32-16 after the first 12 minutes.
Nowitzki said, “We heard about it from Coach all day, how we gave up 40 points in the first quarter (Friday), so that was a big emphasis coming in. We knew they had a tough game yesterday; they won in overtime.”
Dallas’ lead reached 47-26 before Memphis outscored the Mavericks 17-2 to get within 49-43 at halftime.
Conley finished with 24 points, while Marc Gasol scored 23 and Randolph had 21 points and 14 rebounds.
For Dallas, Monta Ellis had 18 points. Jose Calderon broke out of a shooting slump with 15 points, Samuel Dalembert didn’t miss a shot in scoring 14 and Vince Carter added 11 in a reserve role.
Calderon had made just 1 of 15 shots from the field in the first two games. Last season’s NBA leader in 3-point percentage had been 1 for 8 from beyond the arc before going 3 for 7 on Saturday.
Calderon, who finished 4 for 11 overall from the field, received a pre-game vote of confidence from owner Mark Cuban.
“That’s not something that’s going to stay,” he said. “The shots that were going in his entire career aren’t going in. If he’s 0 for 73 after 12 games, then we’ll talk about it.”
Calderon clearly agreed.
“It’s not something you just lose one day,” he said. “You’ve been doing it for so long, you’re going to have games like the ball don’t want to go in, but you’ve got to keep shooting so it’s nothing else you’ve got to worry about.”
Memphis outrebounded Dallas 18-9 in the third quarter but gave away most of that advantage by committing eight turnovers to the Mavericks’ three.
“We fought back into the game,” Gasol said. “We just didn’t convert enough baskets to get to a tie game or ahead.
Carter’s three-point play with 5 seconds to play in the quarter boosted Dallas’ lead to 73-63. Consecutive steals leading to dunks by Ellis and Marion helped the Mavericks rebuild the lead.
“The turnovers – 18 – that’s like 4 too many,” Grizzlies head coach David Joerger said. “Because you’re down 10 (points), OK, you got to 7 and then you make a mistake and it bounces back to 11 or 12.”
Memphis finished just 3 for 16 (19 percent) from 3-point range.
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