Dallas Mavericks

Mavericks close to playoff elimination after rally in Memphis fizzles

The long nightmare of a season for the Dallas Mavericks is almost over.

And after what transpired Friday night at the FedEx Forum, the playoff version of this NBA season will continue in earnest without the Mavs being one of the 16 participants.

Mike Conley, Zach Randolph and Troy Daniels combined for 71 points as the Memphis Grizzlies held on to defeat the Mavs 99-90 before 17,317 fans. The win clinched a playoff spot for the Grizzlies, while the magic number for the Mavs to officially be eliminated from postseason contention has been reduced to one.

The next win by Portland or loss by the Mavs will eliminate the Mavs from the playoffs for the second time in the past six season.

The culprit responsible for Friday’s loss is a familiar one. It was yet another slow start — then a full-out rally by the Mavs that came up short — which sent the Mavs into Sunday afternoon’s game at Milwaukee with a 31-44 record.

“The whole first half was not good,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “It’s the second game in a row we’re talking about a great second half and a sub-par first half, so we’ve got to get better starts.

“The starting group did a great job starting the second half.”

Memphis led 46-25 with 2:59 remaining in the first half. The Grizzlies were physically outmanning the Mavs, who eventually trailed 55-34 at the half.

Behind six points apiece from Seth Curry and J.J. Barea, the Mavs got within 73-62 of the Grizzlies going into the fourth quarter. But Curry got tangled up with Conley and reinjured his sore left shoulder in the third quarter and did not return.

“(Conley) grabbed my arm and I got it jammed up a little bit,” Curry said. “It’s the same thing that’s been happening the past couple of weeks.

“It’s a little sore for sure, and it’ll probably be worse tomorrow. I can’t tell you whether I’ll be able to go or not (against Milwaukee), but I’ll probably need some time to get healthy for sure.”

Even without Curry, the Mavs crawled all the way back and trimmed the Grizzlies’ lead to 94-90 following back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers by Dirk Nowitzki, Barea and Wesley Matthews. Then after Vince Carter misfired on a 3-pointer for Memphis, Nowitzki missed a 3-pointer with 36.7 seconds left.

Carter, the oldest player in the NBA at age 40, grabbed the defensive rebound and Conley was intentionally fouled. Conley, who scored 28 points, hit the first free throw and missed the second one with 29.6 left, leaving the Grizzlies ahead 95-90.

But Carter got the rebound on a tip, and Conley then nailed a pair of charity tosses, giving the Grizzlies a 97-90 cushion with 26.2 seconds left.

“Two great second halves where we would fight and we would show that we can play with these guys,” said Nowitzki, who was just 3-of-17 from the field and finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds. “If we had a little more pep in the beginning, we need to have a little more defensive presence in the beginning.

“Tonight they got whatever they wanted, they got to the foul line, they got threes, they got drives. We just need to have a little more defensive presence.”

Matthews and Barea each scored 13 points for the Mavs, Curry finished with 12 points, Devin Harris scored 10, and Nerlens Noel collected 10 points, six rebounds and two blocks.

The second quarter was hideous for the Mavs. That’s when they converted just 2 of 18 shots — and both of them came via dunks by Harrison Barnes, who was 4-of-10 from the field and tallied eight points.

Still, despite that eye-scratching performance in the first half, the Mavs battled back and made the game interesting.

“It shows we have fight, but we’ve got to show more fight at the beginning of games,” Carlisle said. “It’s just a matter of force, but we’ve got some young guys out there that aren’t that physical that simply have got to adjust.

“I loved the way we came out in the second half. Guys were tied together and going hard and making it hard on them. Good second half and lousy second half, and that’s just not going to be enough.”

Dallas

19

15

28

28

90

Memphis

21

34

18

26

99

Dallas

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

F

Pt

Barnes

37:38

4-10

0-0

4

2

8

Noel

23:54

4-5

2-4

6

2

10

Nowitzki

30:09

3-17

6-6

12

2

13

Curry

14:03

3-5

3-3

1

3

12

Matthews

35:29

5-10

0-0

3

1

13

Harris

26:22

2-4

6-6

2

4

10

Barea

23:23

4-14

1-2

1

2

13

Ferrell

16:35

1-4

0-0

1

0

3

Finney-Smith

12:33

0-1

0-0

3

0

0

Mejri

12:22

3-4

2-4

4

4

8

Brussino

7:31

0-2

0-0

1

1

0

Totals

240

29-76

20-25

38

21

90

Percentages: FG .382, FT .800. 3-Point Goals: 12-34, .353 (Barea 4-11, Curry 3-3, Matthews 3-6, Ferrell 1-3, Nowitzki 1-6, Barnes 0-1, Brussino 0-1, Finney-Smith 0-1, Harris 0-2). Team Rebounds: 5. Team Turnovers: 8 (11 PTS). Blocked Shots: 4 (Noel 2, Matthews, Mejri). Turnovers: 8 (Noel 3, Matthews 2, Brussino, Ferrell, Nowitzki). Steals: 7 (Barnes 2, Harris 2, Curry, Ferrell, Noel).

Memphis

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

F

Pt

Ennis

33:28

4-9

0-1

7

3

9

Wright

22:32

3-5

2-2

4

1

8

Allen

26:57

2-9

0-0

5

4

4

Carter

31:57

1-7

0-0

8

2

3

Conley

34:16

8-15

10-11

5

3

28

Daniels

33:54

7-13

0-0

3

0

21

Randolph

31:30

8-14

6-6

12

3

22

Baldwin

14:13

1-2

0-0

1

3

2

Davis

8:57

1-1

0-0

2

3

2

Selden

2:16

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

Totals

240

35-75

18-20

47

22

99

Percentages: FG .467, FT .900. 3-Point Goals: 11-27, .407 (Daniels 7-12, Conley 2-6, Ennis 1-3, Carter 1-4, Allen 0-2). Team Rebounds: 4. Team Turnovers: 13 (12 PTS). Blocked Shots: 4 (Wright 2, Carter, Conley). Turnovers: 13 (Carter 3, Conley 3, Randolph 2, Baldwin, Daniels, Ennis, Selden, Wright). Steals: 4 (Allen, Carter, Conley, Randolph). Att.—17,317 (18,119). T—2:20. Officials—Scott Foster, J.T. Orr, Tony Brown

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