How it happened: Maybe the Grizzlies, who were playing their fifth game in six nights, just ran out of gas. That doesn’t matter to the Mavericks.
The Mavs absolutely dominated crunch time, as they did so often during last season’s championship run and have done so rarely this season.
That dominance started on the defensive end. The Mavs held the Grizzlies to 12 points on 4-of-16 shooting in the final 10 minutes, allowing Dallas to turn a five-point deficit into a double-figure margin of victory.
The stops fueled the Mavs’ offense. Shawn Marion’s 12-point fourth quarter featured four fast-break baskets, one on a beautiful, spinning feed from Jason Terry for a dunk.
The brilliance of Marion, who finished with 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting and seven rebounds, allowed the Mavs’ co-closers to slip into complementary roles as Dallas put the Grizzlies away. Dirk Nowitzki scored six of his game-high 23 points in the final frame. Terry had five of his 15 points in the fourth quarter.
Marion, as usual, also spearheaded the Mavs’ defensive effort. He held Memphis star Rudy Gay to eight points on 4-of-12 shooting, shutting him out in the fourth quarter.
The Mavs also won the rebounding battle, 45-40, a big deal after getting their butts kicked on the glass on a regular basis recently. Nowitzki grabbed 10 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the season.
What it means: The Mavs pulled even with the Grizzlies in the Western Conference standings, sitting in a tie for fifth place. The tiebreaker in the series will be settled Saturday night in Memphis. The Mavs also created a little separation from Houston (idle) and Denver, which lost to New Orleans.
Bold play of the game: Marion grabbed a rebound off O.J. Mayo’s missed runner and went coast to coast for a little floater. That capped a 10-0 run -- which started when Marion replaced Lamar Odom after Odom’s pathetic failure to box out resulted in a three-point play for Memphis’ Quincy Pondexter -- and stretched the Mavs’ lead to five points.
Stat of the night: The Mavs are 3-20 when trailing after three quarters, including comebacks in their last two wins. Dallas was 18-22 when trailing after three quarters last season.