DALLAS (AP)—For all the Dallas Mavericks have done right this season, from the NBA’s best record to 16 straight home victories, they’re still a long way from completely satisfying coach Avery Johnson—or themselves.
Dallas hasn’t lost at home in two months, matching a franchise record by extending its winning streak with a 113-97 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night.
But the Mavericks had several bad lapses against the Western Conference’s last-place team after building 27-point leads before and after halftime.
“We should have been able to sustain what we did in the first half,” Jerry Stackhouse said. “So we’re a little disappointed. We should have been better.”
After making it to the NBA finals for the first time last year—then blowing a 2-0 series lead and losing four straight to Miami—the Mavericks (40-9) aren’t happy with a performance like this, even winning by 16 points.
“That lets you know how hungry we are,” Josh Howard said. “We were disappointed about the way last season ended. This season, we’re holding each other accountable.”
Dirk Nowitzki scored 18 of his 38 points in a flawless first quarter. The only All-Star from the Mavericks made all seven of his field goals in the opening quarter, including a 14-footer at the buzzer, to go along with 4-of-4 free throws, four rebounds, two assists and two steals.
When he missed his first shot—five minutes into the second quarter right after returning from an extended break—the Mavericks had a 25-point lead. They needed almost all of that to overcome their own miserable stretches.
Down 65-45 at the break, the Grizzlies got within 68-61 on Mike Miller’s tip-in midway through the third quarter.
Dallas missed its first 11 shots after halftime when Memphis went to a zone defense, and was so bad defensively that Johnson called two timeouts in a 69-second span. Memphis scored 12 straight points.
“Our coach is intense. He doesn’t want us to let up,” Greg Buckner said. “He was a little upset and he had a right to be.”
Nowitzki made the second of his free throws with 7:56 left to finally break the scoring drought. Less than a minute later, Howard’s 6-foot fast-break jumper gave the Mavs their first field goal of the second half.
“It was good to get a moral victory in that we came back a little bit and were right there, but at the end of the day, it’s still a loss,” Grizzlies guard Will Conroy said.
When the Grizzlies got close, they had six turnovers in a five-minute span. Devean George scored nine points and Nowitzki hit consecutive baskets, a 3-pointer at the end of the quarter making it 89-65.
Nowitzki finished 14-of-20 with 10 rebounds and six assists. Howard added 23 points and nine rebounds, and George scored 15 points for the Mavs, whose last home loss was Dec. 7 against Detroit. They go for their 17th straight home victory Friday night against Houston.
Pau Gasol had 29 points but also had nine of his team’s 22 turnovers. Miller had 21 points with five 3-pointers for Memphis, which lost for the sixth time in seven games and dropped to 3-21 on the road.
One season after the teams met in the first round of the playoffs, the Grizzlies (12-38) are 28 1/2 games behind Dallas. The Mavericks swept that playoff series last April, and now have swept this season’s regular four-game set as well.
A week earlier in Memphis, the Mavericks held on for a 95-94 victory despite a pair of 30-footers by Miller and Chucky Atkins in the final 5 seconds. Dallas had played only once since, winning 94-93 over Minnesota on Saturday night.
Miller, who had 20 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter of the last meeting, started this one with another long 3-pointer. But that was the only time the Grizzlies led.
Howard responded with a 3-pointer that started a 10-0 run for Dallas. The Mavericks led 40-24 after the first quarter, then scored 12 straight points after Gasol’s 6-foot hook shot to start the second.
“We weren’t mentally ready for it,” Gasol said.
With 65 first-half points, the Mavs fell one shy of their highest-scoring half this season. … Dallas set season highs with 30 assists and 14 steals. .. Memphis is 6-14 since Tony Barone replaced fired coach Mike Fratello on Dec. 29. … Dallas has three 40-point quarters this season, including another against Memphis in the fourth quarter on Nov. 17. … Mavs starting C Erick Dampier missed the game with a sore right knee.