Grizzlies rally from 25 down to knock off Mavericks

Ron Higgins, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Lionel Hollins didn't quite have an answer.
The coach of the Memphis Grizzlies watched his starters sleepwalk through half of the first quarter against Dallas on Wednesday night before he benched them.
By that time, the Grizzlies were on their way to trailing by 25.
"I was angry at them and they were angry at me," Hollins said. "Zach (Randolph) was yelling at me, 'You've got me guarding the wrong guy. Let me guard Dirk (Nowitzki).'"
Such an assignment seemed like a stretch, even for a two-time All-Star like Randolph, who's 6 feet 9 and 265 pounds, with no leaping ability. But he proceeded to hold the Mavs' future Hall of Famer without a field goal for the last 2 1/2 quarters as the Grizzlies rallied for a 90-84 victory in FedExForum.
The Grizzlies matched a franchise record for the largest comeback in team history (25 points).
Randolph, who had 22 points and 10 rebounds, said he felt just like a young pup again, going back to the 2003 playoffs when his Portland team fell behind Dallas 3-0 in the first round.
"Coach (Maurice) Cheeks put me in the game to guard Dirk, we won and that helped turned the series back around," said Randolph, whose Trail Blazers eventually tied the series 3-3 before losing Game 7 at Dallas. "I've guarded him well before."
Randolph's defensive effort Wednesday inspired his teammates to put together an astonishing 36-4 run, including 20 straight points to open the second half.
"When we cut the lead to 13 at the half, I told the team I thought we had a chance," said Hollins, whose Grizzlies (38-18) have won eight straight games heading into a Friday night showdown at Miami, winners of 12 straight. "Our guys came out in the second half and played with a sense of urgency defensively and offensively. We played quicker, got into our sets quicker. Dallas played last (Tuesday) night, so once we pressured them, the energy level was gone. Thank God they played last night."
Once fully engaged, the Mavs (25-32) had no one who could handle Randolph or Gasol, who added 21 points and 12 rebounds.
The Grizzlies went from trailing 38-19 after one quarter to down 55-42 at halftime.
But then came the unthinkable third quarter, a 24-5 Memphis domination. Dallas, which tied the most first-quarter points scored against the Grizzlies this season, also tied a Griz record for least points scored by an opponent in one quarter.
"You get a couple of steals, you get a couple of back-to-back baskets, the crowd gets into it and you get your confidence going," Griz point guard Mike Conley said. "That third quarter was unbelievable. It was like we were floating above it all, just playing on another level."
The Griz starters were a combined 6-of-27 from the field in the opening half, but Memphis took the momentum of Darrell Arthur's half-ending dunk and built on it.
The Mavs didn't score their first point of the third quarter until 3:51 left on O.J. Mayo's free throw. Mike James got Dallas' first field goal with 3:07 left on a steal and a layup after the Mavs missed their first 13 shots.
The Grizzlies just got down and gritty, especially Randolph. He and Mavs' Nowitzki got into some serious body contact, and Randolph emerged the winner. He scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds in the third quarter.
"They turned up the pressure and we didn't handle it well," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "We talked at halftime about how the Grizzlies were going to turn up the pressure, and that we needed to step up and attack it."
NOTES: The Grizzlies also overcame a 25-point deficit at Portland on March 25, 2002. The comeback Wednesday was the largest home comeback in history.
... Shawn Marion's 16 points led Dallas in scoring for the ninth time this season. ... Memphis had a 24-0 run bridging the second and third quarters, the most unanswered points in franchise history. ... Dallas shot 75 percent from the field in first quarter and 32.1 percent (18-for-56) in the final three quarters.

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