DALLAS -- Maybe the Dallas Mavericks will have a say-so in the playoff race after all.
Playing with zest and as if their playoff lives depended on it, the Mavs defeated a quality Western Conference team for the first time this season Saturday night as they hammered the Memphis Grizzlies 104-83 before a crowd of 19,984 at American Airlines Center.
Coupled with Thursday's 117-112 overtime win in Sacramento, this is the first time the Mavs have won two straight games since they defeated Houston and Sacramento on Dec. 8 and 10, respectively.
The Mavs also improved to 15-23 on the season and drew even with the Los Angeles Lakers in the win column for the 11th spot in the Western Conference standings.
Dallas dominated the Grizzlies, who own the fourth-best record in the NBA and were coming off a Friday night overtime win against San Antonio. The Mavs put six players in double figures and made 11 of 17 3-pointers.
"They were lacking some energy from their game Friday night -- overtime, emotional, all those things," coach Rick Carlisle said of the Grizzlies. "We needed to take advantage of it, and we did. It's the kind of game we need. We need more of these."
The Mavs were so efficient at both ends of the floor that they compiled a 102-68 lead with 5:50 left in the game following a 3-pointer by O.J. Mayo. It was the Mavs' largest lead of the season against any opponent, trumping the 29-point lead they held during a 126-99 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Nov. 3.
Saturday's game was the opener of a four-game home stand and provided hope that the Mavs may be able to extend their streak of advancing to the playoffs to 13 years in a row.
With the midway point of the season fast approaching, the Mavs know they need to string a few victories together to make themselves relevant.
"Every little thing helps," said Shawn Marion, who led the Mavs with a season-high 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting. "We have to keep taking baby steps. We have to start crawling so that we can start walking eventually. But right now we are taking baby steps and we have to keep adding to that."
Memphis took a 10-6 lead before the Mavs turned the tables and the game. With Marion scoring seven points, and Chris Kaman and Darren Collison adding six points apiece, Dallas mounted a 25-18 first-quarter lead.
Dirk Nowitzki scored nine of his 17 points in the second quarter as the Mavs built a 54-39 lead at the half. Marion and Kaman each scored eight points in the third quarter as the Mavs kept the pressure on and took an 88-62 lead into the fourth quarter and looked, at times, like the team that won the NBA title in 2011.
"All along we have been playing so well up until the last three or four minutes, and then lose the game, and I don't want to let that get to our confidence," said Collison, who contributed 10 points, six assists and four steals. "I want to be able to keep our confidence high."
The Grizzlies had forced teams to turn the ball over at least 10 times in 138 straight games. It was the longest active streak in the NBA.
But the Mavs protected the ball, turning it over just nine times, thus enabling them to keep the game under better control.
"From where we are right now, gutting out the game in Sacramento was really important for us," Carlisle said. "Being able to come home and start off this home stand the right way is really important for us, but we take nothing for granted.
"This whole season has been work, it's been challenging and it's going to continue to be that. But we're showing some signs of coming together in some different ways and we've just to continue in that vein."
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760