It was kids night at FedExForum, and the Dallas Mavericks’ attempts at playing NBA-level basketball were almost as adorable as the children participating in the game’s events.
The Grizzlies completely shut down the Mavericks offense, holding the team to only 32% from the floor, and Zach Randolph recorded his sixth 20-20 game as a Grizzly as the team earned their fifth win in seven games and their fourth over a team with a .500 or better record.
All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki rejoined the Mavericks for his first game back from an injury, but was sluggish in only 15 minutes of play. He was eliminated from the contest in the third quarter after earning two technical fouls. The Mavericks were also playing the second night of a back-to-back road series with the previous game being a blowout loss to San Antonio.
“I’m not going to stand here and say we shut down the Dallas Mavericks A-game,” coach Lionel Hollins said. “But to beat Dallas twice in three games… I’ll take it.”
Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph started the game with consecutive layups to put the Grizzlies up 4-3 with 10:37 left in the first quarter. The quarter ended with the Grizzlies holding a 31-19 lead. The team never looked back.
Randolph finished with 23 points and 20 rebounds. Rudy Gay had 16 points and Darrell Arthur added 17 off the bench.
No Dirk, No Problem
When Grizzlies, fans, players and media saw perennial All-Star Dirk Nowitzki warming up with the Mavericks last night, hopes of a Grizzlies win became instantly lowered. The fear was unfounded however.
Nowitzki was clearly not fully recovered from his injury, and locker room chatter after the game (a lot of “Dirk hurt man”) showed that Grizzlies players also felt they did not have to face the Dallas big man at his best.
“Having a great player not playing at his best level is always good for us,” Gasol said after the game.
Aside from being hobbled, Nowitzki’s ejection eliminated Dallas’ ability to intimidate the Grizzlies inside, allowing the Grizz to play tight defense on the perimeter, a usual weakness of the team.
Ladies and Gentlemen, pick your All-Stars
Randolph’s big game helped to solidify his bid for a 2011 All-Star spot, which would be his second in as many years. Hollins made a point to talk about the power forward’s candidacy after the game.
“I’ve already been getting things from other teams (promoting other players),” Hollins said, “so I hope our PR department can get something out on Zach quickly.”
It’s funny Hollins would say this, as the Grizzlies just released an online video touting small forward Rudy Gay for the team. The video spoofs Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man in the World” ads and… it’s actually pretty good. Check it out below.
Maybe we’ll see a video for Zbo coming up soon.
In case you missed it…
Speaking of Randolph, his performance since Christmas has been stellar. Just take a look.
|Date / Opp||Rebounds||Points|
|Dec. 26 @Ind||16||18|
|Dec. 27 Tor||8||21|
|Dec. 29 @Sac||17||35|
|Jan. 2 @Lal||8||21|
|Jan. 4 Okc||16||31|
|Jan. 7 Uth||11||26|
|Jan. 8 @Ock||16||27|
|Jan. 10 @Cha||9||15|
|Jan. 12 @Det||17||34|
|Jan. 15 Dal||20||23|
Averages over that period? 25 points, 14 rebounds. The Grizzlies’ record over that same period is 7-3. The man is on a tear.
Randolph was less than verbose after the game but offered this concerning his play.
“It’s an everyday job for me. I just put in the work and give 100% everyday.”
Dunk of the Game
Darrell Arthur was again throwing down some monster alley-oops, one from Grievis Vasquez (this is becoming a staple) and another from Mike Conley (could the starter be learning from the rookie back-up?), but the award has to go to Rudy Gay for his fourth quarter slam.
With 9:44 left and the Grizzlies nursing a big lead, Dallas was attempting to make a final charge. They almost got it started with an excellent defensive possession that nearly caused a shot clock violation.
Marc Gasol heaved a desperation shot that hit the rim just as the buzzer sounded, narrowly avoiding a violation. It bounced off the rim. The ball bounced around between teams, finally landing in Gay’s hands, who found himself standing alone under the basket for an easy jam. It was indicative of the night overall.
Two-days ahead of the MLK game, a huge event for the Grizz, Memphis’ arena staff gave one of the best shows of the year for kids’ night. Features included a children’s dance team, a halftime show from mini break dancers, and the pregame introductions also done by a child.
Last night’s win puts the Grizzlies at 19-21, two wins away from the ever-elusive .500 mark and only a game and a half behind Portland for the West’s eighth playoff spot. The team next plays Chicago on Monday as part of the NBA’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration. I will be attending the game as a civilian, but Memphisport will still be covering the game with live tweets@memphisport and the usual postgame report right here at Memphisport.net.
All photos by Chase Gustafson for Memphisport.