MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – The Dallas Mavericks have struggled at times this season to close out. They didn’t let that happen against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 26 points, Brandan Wright added 17 and the Mavericks used a second-half surge to grab a 110-96 victory over Memphis on Wednesday night.
“We’ve obviously had a little trouble sometimes finishing games with leads, especially on the road,” said Nowitzki, who was 10 of 14 from the field, including 3 of 4 from beyond the arc. “Teams are putting pressure on us and really getting into us, and we haven’t really responded well to that. But (against the Grizzlies) I thought we were solid.”
Samuel Dalembert and Monta Ellis had 14 points apiece and Dalembert added 10 rebounds. Vince Carter had 13 points and seven assists to help the Mavericks win their third straight game.
Zach Randolph scored 25 points for Memphis, while Courtney Lee finished with 22. James Johnson added 17 and Nick Calathes scored 16 starting his third game in place of injured starting point guard Mike Conley.
Dallas began its rally in the closing minutes of the third quarter and carried it into the fourth, eventually leading by as many as 17.
The Mavericks are eighth in the Western Conference, two games ahead of the Grizzlies for the last playoff spot. Dallas also assured itself of winning the season series with its third win over Memphis this season.
“If we would have won it, we would still be able to make the playoffs. If we lose, it doesn’t change anything,” said Memphis center Marc Gasol, who had 12 points. “We have a lot of games left. . Of course, we would like to win every game, but if you lose, you move on. If you win, you move on.
There’s no other way around it.”
The Mavericks dominated the paint, holding a 56-32 advantage in points and 35-32 edge on the glass.
“To get 40, 50 points in the paint on them is impressive,” Nowitzki said. “It means we were driving the ball and sharing. . Anytime we hold our own on the boards with this team and almost double them on points in the paint, that’s a fantastic job for us.”
Memphis led 55-52 at halftime after having a basket taken away by a clock malfunction at the end of the half. Ellis scored with 10.1 seconds left, and on the ensuing Memphis possession Johnson appeared to hit a layup with less than a second left.
But the clock didn’t start properly following Ellis’ basket, and officials ruled that if it had, Johnson would not have gotten the shot off in time.
“In the first half, we didn’t defend very well,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “We knew we were going to play better in the second half.”
The Mavericks took their first lead of the game on a 3-pointer by Nowitzki early in the third period, but then the game settled into poor shooting on both sides. The result was a quarter with six ties and three lead changes. Dallas broke a 71-all tie by closing the period with a 7-1 push for a 78-72 lead.
That started a 14-3 Mavericks rally spanning the quarters. When Wright converted a 3-point play with 8:27 left, Dallas had stretched the lead to 14 points.
The Mavericks’ 110 points snapped a Memphis string of seven games during which the Grizzlies had not allowed an opponent to surpass 90 points.
“They always have five guys on the floor that you have to guard, and they can all shoot,” Memphis coach Dave Joerger said. “I did a poor job at getting us ready against the multiple action pick-and-rolls that they ran.
“Defensively, we were awful.”
NOTES: It took 7 minutes after the teams left the floor at halftime for officials to review the final play before disallowing Johnson’s basket. … Mavericks F Shawn Marion returned after missing two games with shoulder and rib contusions and had eight points. … Calathes, who hadn’t committed a turnover in the last two games starting for Conley, had six turnovers. … Nowitzki has five straight games with at least 23 points.
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