After an unexpected week-long hiatus following the catastrophic weather event in Texas, the Dallas Mavericks led the Memphis Grizzlies face to face, 102-92. Tim Hardaway Jr. was Dallas’ best player, scoring 29 points off the bench. Ja Morant led the Grizzlies in loss with 22 points.
Both teams seemed sleepy to start the opening quarterback, with Josh Richardson the only player on either team to play with a zip. He poured three deep threes into the frame, jumping off starting a Dallas attack that looked shaky after a week off. The Grizzlies, meanwhile, just couldn’t score until their bench unit came into the game. Hardaway provided a much needed spark off the bench, hitting two groups of three and a driving heap on the bench. Luka Doncic was out the entire quarter, missing all but one of his shots, including all four free throws. Those issues aside, the Mavericks still lead 26-13 after a period of play.
You would expect Memphis to find some sort of second-quarter pace after Tyus Jones and a flurry of floats gave the Grizzlies a late attack in the first quarter. It would be a wrong assumption. Jalen Brunson led the Mavericks, scoring in various ways in the frame, and Hardaway kept throwing flames as the Mavericks extended their lead to 23 in the second quarter. Doncic continued to sound a bit slow but for the first time in recent memory it didn’t matter. The Mavericks, at one point, held a 20-0 advantage over Memphis, which helped them carry a 54-36 lead in the half.
Doncic took control early in the third, reaching the edge and hitting a soft float. The Grizzlies simply had no response and appeared to be running through the sand over much of the frame. Other than a few exciting finishes from Morant, Memphis had very little to offer. This allowed Dallas to enjoy the transition and the bottom line. The Mavericks actually cooled off considerably over the quarterback, but Memphis couldn’t take the lead at all. After three quarters, Dallas led 81-62.
The Mavericks just held on for the rest of the game. The last frame appeared to be a workshop for Doncic to find his photo as he finally tapped into a pair of threes in the first few minutes. The Mavericks slackened a bit in the final six minutes of the quarter, allowing their 18-20 point lead to shrink to 15, then 12. Dallas managed to maintain a double-digit victory, but did not finish the match in enthusiastic mode. All things considered, a win is a win and the Mavericks came away with a 102-92 win.
Now some thoughts
Defense leads to offense
It’s one of the oldest rules in basketball and the Dallas Mavericks rediscovered their active hands early in the season for the game against the Grizzlies. Dallas sanctioned the Grizzlies both at quick break points (24-2) but also at turnovers (19-12). While the Mavericks are 12th in the league in terms of quick break points, they are second to last in turnover points.
Dallas was still pretty poor on the edge, but without Kristaps Porzing the closest player to a shot blocker’s roster is Willie Cauley-Stein. Dallas also did a better job on the boards, getting bodies on Memphis players and not getting destroyed on the offensive glass despite Grizzly’s poor shooting performance.
Josh Richardson, Rhythm Factor
Richardson finished with 17 points and seven rebounds to go along with three assists and a pair of steals. But his big first quarter, where he had 10 points and five rebounds, really pushed Dallas forward into a quarter where they felt a bit stuck in the mud.
Our own Josh, Josh Bowe, pointed out on Twitter earlier today that Richardson is having a pretty good attacking season, once you look past his three-point shot (which is also on the rise!).
if josh richardson could shoot just the league average (or even just a little worse) of three, he would have a really good offensive season so far. pic.twitter.com/nBp9JH2IJB
– Josh Bowe (@ Boweman55) February 22, 2021
It’s good to see Richardson become a difference maker for this Dallas team. For now, we’re going to ignore its top five turnovers.
This is by no means a new trend, but it was good to see the Maverick bench continue to score with ease. Jalen Brunson has arguably been Dallas’ second best player this season and easily the second most consistent. He answered the bell again Monday night, scoring 19 points on a hyper-efficient 7 of 11 off the ground to go along with seven rebounds and three assists. Then, Tim Hardaway Jr. continued to be the real X-Factor, scoring 29 points on 9 of 14 shots, including a 7 of 11 downtown. Dallas, I believe, is now 6-1 when Hardaway scores 20 or more points. 48 points from two players off the bench make any team hard to beat.
Here is the post-match podcast, Mavs Moneyball After Dark. If you can’t see the integration below “More Mavs Moneyball”, Click here. And if you haven’t already, subscribe by searching for “Mavs Moneyball podcast” in your favorite podcast app.