It didn’t take long for Samuel Dalembert to get his mojo back.
One game after not playing because of a coach’s decision, Dalembert came off the bench Wednesday to spark the Dallas Mavericks to a 105-91 triumph over the Memphis Grizzlies before a sellout crowd of 19,425 at American Airlines Center.
It was a nice bounce-back game for Dalembert, who was slumping so badly that he didn’t even play against Milwaukee on Saturday. However, Dalembert responded with eight points, seven rebounds, two blocks and two steals in only 13 minutes against the Grizzlies, in addition to playing some heady defense against Zach Randolph.
“I really felt he was going to be a factor in the game heading into it,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “I wasn’t sure exactly when to put him in. But when we got to the third quarter, it just seemed like it was time — they were making a run.
“Randolph really had gotten involved a little bit and we had been double-teaming and fronting him. And that opens up other things, so we had Sam play him straight up. And over the course of the time he was in there, he was a big plus.”
Dalembert blocked a jumper by Randolph early in the fourth quarter. Later on, he lofted in a jump-hook over Randolph, played solid defense against the Grizzlies’ big man, then completed a three-point play that lifted the Mavs ahead 93-77 with 5:40 left in the game.
A short time after that, Shawn Marion (10 points, seven rebounds) missed a 10-footer. But Dalembert came storming down the right side of the lane, cradled the rebound with one hand and jammed it through the basket.
That thunderous bucket by Dalembert brought the entire Mavs’ bench to its feet and gave Dallas an insurmountable 102-83 lead.
“I know how important this game at home was for us, and I just prepared myself and I just passed the test,” Dalembert said. “It’s not really an exam, but when I got my opportunities and chances, I just played the way I’m capable of playing.
“It’s been a down past couple of weeks for me. I just stayed positive and professional and just got ready for my chance and opportunity to really prove myself.”
Dirk Nowitzki led all players with 20 points and also contributed six rebounds and five assists. In addition, Monta Ellis poured in 18 points, Vince Carter had 14 points and a game-high six assists and Jose Calderon finished with 12 points.
The Mavs are now 15-10 overall and 2-0 on this homestand, which concludes Friday against Toronto.
Dallas bolted ahead 27-21 after the first period against a Memphis team that was playing without injured starters Marc Gasol and Mike Conley Jr. The lead swelled to 52-39 at the half as the Mavs kept the pressure on with solid play at both ends of the floor, particularly on offense, where they distributed 25 assists.
“I just think we’re trying to find the open guy,” Calderon said. “We are unselfish and everyone is looking to make the right play, no matter who it is.
“If there’s a guy open, we try to pass that ball out.”
While the Mavs‘ unselfish play took center stage, Dalembert, who entered the game for the first time with 5:44 left in the third quarter, was busy leaving an indelible impression.
“He was able to guard, his length was a factor, he rebounded, blocked shots and he did some great things offensively as well,” Carlisle said. “I’m very happy for him after the other night.”
Indeed, this was a good confidence booster for Dalembert.
“I’ve got my mojo back,” he said. “It feels good, man, to be out there in a crucial part of the game and testing yourself.”