The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Memphis Grizzlies on the road Friday night, 112-85. Luka Doncic led Dallas with another triple double, scoring 27, dishing 10 assists, and grabbing 12 boards. Ja Morant led the Grizzlies with 19.
The Mavericks played a sloppy opening quarter, turning the ball over six times, including four from Luka Doncic. That, paired with strong Memphis offensive rebounding, resulted in the Grizzlies taking nine more shots in the first 12 minutes of action. Dallas found themselves trailing Memphis after one, 29-25.
Dallas managed to tie things up at 37 just four minutes into the quarter, but then scoring went cold for both teams for several minutes through the middle of the frame. The two teams exchanged leads only for Ja Morant to close the half on an explosive and-one. The Grizzlies took a 55-50 lead into the half.
After a challenging start, getting down by nine, the Mavericks stormed back through utterly spectacular defense and held Memphis to just 18 points. Dallas managed to take a 84-73 lead into the fourth. Then something truly wild happened: instead of a fourth quarter comeback from Memphis, the Dallas defense kept the clamps on and held the Grizzlies to just 12 points! They annihilated Memphis on both ends of the floor and closed out a 112-85 win. See y’all tomorrow in the late start home game versus the Magic.
Now, some thoughts
Writing about defense immediately during and after the game is not something I excel at, but it’s the key reason why the Mavericks were able to hang around until Luka Doncic became Thanos and wrecked the Grizzly universe. They held Memphis to just 30 points in the second half!
I’d try to write on it, but you should really click on Steve Jones’ thread here. Dallas is committing to their base defense and it results in not getting beat in frustrating ways. Sometimes, teams make shots, that happens in professional basketball, but playing a tired Memphis team (8 games in 12 nights) resulted in a massive win propelled by defense.
Little things on D from Dallas. Pindown into a P&R and Dallas ends up switching. On the swing back to Ja they double, rotate out of it and help on the drive. There’s a solid base, activity but ability to do the little things. pic.twitter.com/xRhkCYgHzx
— Steve Jones Jr. (@stevejones20) January 15, 2022
“All things Luka Doncic just bum me out right now” a friend told me this morning. His thoughts centered around the fact that the Doncic discourse sucked, because Luka is so good but our expectations wildly outpace what’s possible sometimes. I understand the reasoning, we need Luka to be otherworldly and he’s been as human as a person averaging 25-8-9 can be this season. Heck, even before the game the terrible ESPN panel picked Ja Morant as the guy they’d clearly start a basketball team with over Luka.
Then Luka went out and had four turnovers in the first few minutes. He finished the half with six and couldn’t hit a three pointer to save his life (0 for 6 for the game!). I failed to mention, though, how he went out and scored 12 of 16 on two point shots, going towards his 27 points, while corralling 12 rebounds and dishing 10 assists. He was a mastro, the unquestioned best player in the game while looking like the best player in the league at times.
The performance of a master of his craft.
The Mavericks scored 23 of their 112 points on the break and took advantage of a tired Memphis team. Dallas should push more frequently, as they’re currently 23rd, before tonight’s numbers get added.
I get that Doncic wants to control the pace, but he and Dallas are harder to deal with if he’s pushing things in real time forcing defenses to make decisions on the fly. Plus, the basketball is just more fun.
Here’s our latest episode of Mavs Moneyball After Dark. If you’re unable to see the embed below, click here to be taken to the podcast directly. Or go to your favorite podcast app and search Mavs Moneyball Podcast.