DALLAS (AP) - Dirk Nowitzki wanted more help. He sure got it -
just when the Dallas Mavericks needed it, too.
In his first game since grumbling about his teammates deferring
to him too much, Nowitzki scored 20 points over the first three
quarters, then watched Jason Terry and Josh Howard carry the
Mavericks the rest of the way in a 106-101 victory over the Memphis
Grizzlies on Saturday.
Terry scored 12 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter, and
Howard had eight of his 11, to make sure the Mavericks got a split
of their four-game homestand. Their contributions were especially
important because Nowitzki failed to score in the final period,
missing his only two shots.
"Josh was aggressive, making plays there in the fourth and Jet
was on fire there late, so it was fun to watch," Nowitzki said.
Dallas actually eased the load on Nowitzki the entire game,
putting a total of seven players in double figures. The rest of the
key contributors: Erick Dampier with 13 points and 10 rebounds,
Jason Kidd with 10 points and 10 assists, J.J. Barea with 11 points
and Shawn Marion with 10.
"That's the way this team was built," Terry said. "That
hasn't been there for us this season, but we know in the near
future it's going to be there and be consistent. ... Hopefully this
is the one we look back on and say, `Hey ... that's the
If so, this was a good time to find it. Dallas is headed out for
a four-game road trip that starts in Denver (against the team that
ousted the Mavs from last year's playoffs) and ends in Los Angeles
against the Lakers.
Terry pointed out that for all the emphasis on Dallas' scoring,
the club's biggest improvement this season is on defense. It sure
didn't look that way at the start of this game, with Zach Randolph
facing little resistance around the basket.
Randolph made nine straight shots and scored 21 of Memphis'
first 39 points, helping the Grizzlies go ahead by 10. Finally, the
Mavericks started double-teaming him and things began to change.
Randolph went without a field goal - and only took about three
shots - from 9:42 of the second quarter to 9:43 of the fourth. By
then, Dallas had taken control.
Nowitzki powered a 14-3 run early in the third quarter that
lifted the Mavs from trailing by four to leading by seven. The
Grizzlies never went back ahead, but they did get within 97-96 with
Dallas answered with a layup by Dampier off a nice pass from
Nowitzki. Terry made four free throws in the final 20.6 to polish
off a win that avenged a 16-point loss in Memphis earlier this
month. The Mavericks had lost to them three straight.
Randolph finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds, and Rudy Gay
had 22 points and 10 rebounds. Memphis ended a three-game winning
streak and Randolph ended a two-game run of scoring in the 30s.
"We stopped doing what we were doing that got us the lead,"
Randolph said. "We needed to attack the basket more. It's real
frustrating. It was a tough game. We need to make smarter plays,
move the ball, play a little more together at the end of the game.
If we do that, we'll be OK."
O.J. Mayo scored 18 points, but was 4 of 14 and had four
turnovers, including one shortly after Dampier's basket that left
Memphis down by three.
Marc Gasol added 13 points and 12 rebounds, and Sam Young scored
Nowitzki, still playing with a huge bandage on his shooting
elbow because of a gruesome injury last week, was 10 of 16 but
wasn't as aggressive as usual. For instance, he didn't shoot a free
throw for the first time since Dec. 8, 2007. He also had four
"We know Dirk is our leader, but every night he's not going to
have it so other guys have to step up," Dampier said. "We played
together, shared the ball, had fun and were victorious."
Notes: This was Dampier's seventh double-double, more than he had
all last season. ... Memphis fell to 1-14 at American Airlines
Center, having won here only in November 2005. ... Kidd passed Tim
Hardaway for the seventh-most career 3-pointers. ... Dallas' backup
big man Drew Gooden didn't dress because of back spasms. ... Mavs
owner Mark Cuban won't be joining the team in Denver, but it has
nothing to do with avoiding Kenyon Martin or Nuggets fans. His kids
are on winter break so he's headed to his vacation home in the
Cayman Islands. He'll miss the team's games during spring break,