The Dallas Mavericks have been winning during their seemingly easy stretch of games. Those victories just haven’t come as easy as they would have liked.
The Mavericks hope to get off to a better start on Sunday as they try for their 14th straight win over the Memphis Grizzlies.
In the highly competitive Southwest Division, Dallas (20-12) is hoping to move up the standings during a stretch when it faces Minnesota, Philadelphia, Memphis (10-23), New York and the Los Angeles Clippers twice. All those teams are below .500 and none have been playing well lately.
The Mavericks opened this portion of their schedule last Sunday with an easy 98-76 victory over the Clippers, but their last two games have been tight.
After completing a franchise-record 29-point second-half comeback in Tuesday’s 107-100 win over the Timberwolves, Dallas rallied from 12 down in the third to beat the 76ers 96-86 on Friday.
Dirk Nowitzki had a 16-point fourth quarter and finished with 31 Friday, while Jason Terry scored 19 of his 21 points in the second half. The two combined to shoot just 5-for-22 from the floor in the first half as Dallas went into the break with 40 points for the second straight game.
“We don’t want to play like that,” said center Erick Dampier, who finished with 10 points and 14 rebounds. “We want to come out and be ready from the beginning of the game. We face some good teams and we want to come out and really play. So, we don’t want to be behind 20 points every game.”
While the Mavericks have had some first half struggles lately, they’ve had no trouble beating the Grizzlies.
Less than two weeks ago on Dec. 23, Dallas jumped out to a 22-12 lead over Memphis at the end of the first quarter en route to a 100-82 win. The Mavericks also defeated the Grizzlies 91-76 on Nov. 21, and have won 13 straight over them since a 112-92 loss on Nov. 26, 2005.
Dallas has also won eight straight in Memphis since a 109-92 loss Feb. 17, 2004. The Mavericks have won 12 of 14 meetings in Memphis, and are 46-7 all-time against the Grizzlies franchise.
Memphis, which has averaged 79.0 points on 37.8 percent shooting in its first two games of the season against Dallas, shot 39.7 percent from the floor in Friday’s 91-80 loss to San Antonio.
“We have to put this one behind us and move on,” said Hakim Warrick, who led the Grizzlies with 16 points. “It’s tough when you let the tough ones get by because there are going to be games like this when you are going to have a bad night. We just have to take care of business and get ready to turn things around.”
Memphis has lost four straight and eight of nine following a season-high four-game winning streak. It’s averaging 106.0 points in its last five wins, but only 89.4 in those eight losses.
Rookie O.J. Mayo, who leads the Grizzlies with 19.7 points per game, finished with just 12 on Friday. He has scored 24 points on 10-of-34 shooting in his last two games after scoring 52 on 22-of-39 shooting in his previous two.
Mayo, the third overall pick in last June’s draft, has also struggled in his two games against the Mavericks, scoring 26 points on 10-of-33 shooting.