W2W4: Winning in Memphis isn't easy

MEMPHIS -- Here's the bad news about finishing up a back-to-back at Memphis:

"It feels like we haven’t won in Memphis in years," Dirk Nowitzki said following Friday's improbable, 99-97 overtime home loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Portland loss basically nullified Dallas' feel-good win against the Grizzles on Wednesday. And now the Dallas Mavericks, 11-15 on the road, walk -- er, limp -- into Memphis knowing that a loss could prevent them from moving beyond the sixth spot in the West standings.

Nowitzki's claim is sort of right on, too. The Mavs have lost five of the last seven games played in Memphis, and he has some bad personal memories there. In the first meeting this season, he lasted less than 10 minutes before his lower back stiffened up to the point that he couldn't play. Dallas then got blown out.

Last season, he got tossed in the third quarter after playing just 15 minutes in his return from a knee injury -- and Dallas got blown out.

The good news is that Dallas, despite its advanced age, has been very good in the second night of a back-to-back, going 12-6. Although in the case of a home-and-road scenario, the Mavs are just 1-3. The Grizzlies beat up the Heat in Miami on Friday night and will be playing their seventh game in nine nights, so fatigue should be a factor in the Mavs' favor, as it was Wednesday night in Dallas.

Then again, the Grizzlies will be smelling blood. They know a win tonight will put them three games ahead of Dallas in the loss column with the Mavs down to single-digit games left on the schedule.

"It’s an important game for us," Shawn Marion said. "We can’t afford to lose two."

Records: Mavs (31-25); Grizzlies (31-23)

Where: FedEx Forum

TV: KTXA/Ch. 21

Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1270 AM (Spanish)

What to watch: Pride. Can the Mavs muster it up after Friday night's embarrassment? In this strangely inconsistent season, one good game has often led to a stinker and vice-versa. The defending champs over the years have been very good with their backs against the wall. Well, here's another one of those unfortunate situations. A loss and the Mavs drop to just four games over .500 and seriously put their playoff hopes in jeopardy. The sixth-seeded Mavs enter tonight's game with the same number of losses as the No. 7 Rockets and No. 8 Nuggets -- although they do hold the tie-breaker over both teams -- and just two fewer losses than Utah and Phoenix.

Key matchup: Mike Conley vs. Delonte West

The Mavs' fill-in starter at point guard gave the team two scares Friday when he twisted his left ankle during the morning shootaround and then again during the game when he landed awkwardly after making a nice drive to the bucket. The Grizzlies get a lot of points in the paint and not just from their powerful front line. Conley is a quick and shifty point guard who can get to the cup. West is going to have to be on his toes and even a small gimp in his step could spell the difference between preventing Conley from a free path to the lane and forcing him to make a different decision.

Injuries: Mavs -- G Jason Kidd (strained right groin) is out; C Ian Mahinmi (personal reasons) is out. Grizzlies -- F Darrell Arthur (torn ACL) is out; G Tony Allen (facial laceration) is questionable.

Up next: Sacramento Kings at Mavs, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday