MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- It's about time teams start respecting the
Dallas Mavericks' defense.
Trailing by 10 in the fourth, the Mavericks clamped down on the
Memphis Grizzlies in the final minutes Wednesday night and won
81-80 for their 10th straight victory.
It was the 10th straight game an opponent has failed to reach
the century mark against Dallas, a franchise record.
"We've been relying on the defense a lot more," said Jason
Terry, who had nine of his 15 points in the fourth-quarter
comeback. "That's starting to be the new motto for our team;
starting to be our reputation now. Defensively, during this stretch
that we've been playing well, we've been pretty much putting the
lockdown on teams."
Dirk Nowitzki made two free throws with 7.2 seconds left, his
only points of the fourth quarter, for the winning margin. Mike
Miller's drive with 3 seconds left bounced off the side rim,
sending Memphis to its third loss in four games.
"Slipped a little bit. I should have made it," Miller said.
The Mavericks held Memphis to 13 points and forced the Grizzlies
into 28 percent shooting from the field in the fourth quarter.
"It was a great comeback for us," Nowitzki said. "The last 10
games, I think we're really trying to buy into (coach Avery
Johnson's) system on both ends of the floor. We're moving the ball
on offense, and trying to be as tough as we can be on defense. I
think it's going well."
Nowitzki had 18 points and 12 rebounds. Josh Howard led Dallas
with 19 points.
Atkins' 3-pointer with 40 seconds left gave Memphis an 80-77
lead. But he missed two free throws with 23 seconds left, and
Memphis ahead 80-79, setting up Nowitzki's go-ahead free throws.
"We've lost so many close games," Gasol said. "It's
frustrating. We had this game, and we let it get away again."
After an anemic third quarter by the Mavericks, Memphis built
the lead to 10 twice in the early stages of the final stanza, first
on a baseline jumper by Battier, then on Miller's layup.
Memphis began going inside to Gasol, but he couldn't convert
short chances, hitting only a dunk in his seven shots of the
Meanwhile, the Mavericks got a burst from Terry, who scored six
in a string of eight unanswered points, including an 18-footer that
pulled Dallas to 75-74 with just over 3 minutes left. His 3-pointer
got the Mavericks even at 77 with 1:54 left.
Howard scored 13 early points and had 15 at the half, while
Nowitzki added 14.
Memphis' biggest success came from Gasol hitting outside jumpers
and converting free throws. He was 6-of-12 and scored 18 points in
the first half.
Nowitzki scored eight straight Dallas points late in the second
period, but Atkins' two free throws with under a second left in the
half, cut the Mavericks' lead to 47-45 at the break.
Terry said the win was an example of the new approach for the
Mavericks, even if others aren't paying attention.
"I still believe they think we're the Mavericks that just run
and gun," Terry said. "Hopefully, we'll just keep letting them
"We're trying to shake that identity. Our identity now is to
win games with defense because your offense isn't going to carry
you every night."
The Grizzlies are considering sending G Anthony Roberson
and F Lawrence Roberts to the Arkansas Rimrockers of the NBA
Development League during the team's upcoming six-game road trip to
get them more playing time. Coach Mike Fratello said the transfer
could be a "reward" because it will get them playing time and
possibly showcase them to other teams. ... Terry said Johnson
slammed the clipboard down during a timeout in the fourth, grazing
the guard's thumb. "We're 2-0 when he throws the clipboard at
me," Terry said, adding that the previous time was in Seattle.