MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Thirty-two seconds remained in the game and Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol was at the free-throw line having made the last two of his 30 points. Fans inside FedExForum Tuesday night saw it as an opportunity, chanting “MVP, MVP, MVP.”
Gasol, who also had six assists and five rebounds in the Grizzlies’ 114-105 victory over Dallas Tuesday night, had scored a season-low two points in Sunday’s victory over Miami. On Tuesday, he had 14 points by the end of the first quarter.
“I don’t know who started it,” Gasol said when asked about his reaction to the MVP chants, adding, “It’s funny … Overwhelming. I don’t know what to say.”
“He played great Sunday, too,” said guard Courtney Lee. “He just didn’t have big scoring numbers.”
Back-up center Kosta Koufos, going for brevity, said: “He’s Marc.”
And the Grizzlies (17-4) were the Grizzlies. They stayed true to self, outscoring Dallas 52-26 in the paint as power forward Zach Randolph had a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Point guard Mike Conley finished with 22 points.
But first they had to survive the early onslaught of 3-pointers from the
Mavericks. Though Dallas (16-7) hit 18 of 40 3-point shots (45 percent) for the game, the Mavericks were 7-for-11 through the first quarter as they scored 37 points. Forward Chandler Parsons (30 points) scored 11 in the first quarter and was 3-for-3 from behind the arc. Guard Jameer Nelson scored 13 in the period (18 for the game) and was 3-for-4 from long range.
And it all added up to a mere 37-34 lead going into the second quarter.
“We can’t fully rely on our offense like that,” Parsons said. “It doesn’t make us entitled to not get back on defense. It allowed them to keep killing us in the paint.”
Nine of Randolph’s rebounds were on the offensive glass.
“It’s almost like they miss layups on purpose just to get it back,” Parsons said.
The Mavericks (16-7) held their last lead with 8:17 left in the third quarter when a jumper by forward Dirk Nowitzki made it 67-66. Memphis closed the quarter with a 26-12 run to lead 92-79 going into the fourth. Randolph had 13 points and nine rebounds in the third quarter alone.
“Obviously our downfall,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “In the end, we did a good job of hanging in.”
Dallas drew within two at the 4:31 mark of the fourth quarter when guard Devin Harris hit a 3-pointer. But the Mavs never got closer.
“It was a great win,” Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger said. “We took a lot of hits.”
They also did an exceptional job taking care of the ball (just five turnovers), and the defense limited Nowitzki to 11 points on 4-for-17 shooting and guard Monta Ellis, who was questionable because of a sore elbow, to two points on 1-for-11 shooting.
“Tony (Allen) did an amazing job on Monta Ellis,” Gasol said.
The Grizzlies shot 48.2 percent (41 for 85) and Dallas shot 44.7 percent (38 for 85).
Also scoring in double-figures for the Grizzlies: Allen with 13 points, forward Tayshaun Prince with 11 points, and guard Beno Udrih with 10. Dallas got 17 points from guard J.J. Barea, and 13 from Jae Crowder.
Nowitzki said the Mavs were fine offensively, even on a night when “I couldn’t make a shot.” He added: “We gave up (114) to a team that’s a slower team, a team that plays a grind-it-out style. It’s too many points.”
Parsons also considered the outcome somewhat of a referendum, saying, “If we want to consider ourselves an elite team, we have to beat elite teams.”