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Nowitzki leads Mavericks to easy win over Grizzlies

Dec 24, 2008 - 5:13 AM By Lary Bump PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

DALLAS (Ticker) -- Dirk Nowitzki survived a scoreless first quarter while his teammates picked up the slack.

Nowitzki finished with 21 points and eight rebounds to lead the Dallas Mavericks to a 100-82 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday.

"That just shows the versatility of this team. Even without Dirk, we still took that lead," Dallas point guard Jason Kidd said. "We expect him to bounce back from something like that, and most of the time he does."

The perennial All-Star also completed a three-point play to put an end to the Grizzlies' attempt to get back into the game. Late in the fourth quarter, Memphis pulled to within nine on Greg Buckner's 3-pointer. But Nowitzki drove to the basket, dropped in a layup, drew a foul and buried the foul shot to put the Mavericks back in control.

The victory put the Mavericks (16-11) five games over .500 for the first time this season.

"We're going to get better defensively as the season goes on," Nowitzki said. "We try to take other teams out of what they really want to do. That's what we did tonight."

Brandon Bass scored all 11 of his points in the fourth quarter, when Dallas outscored the visitors, 30-22. Jason Terry scored seven of his 17 in the final 12 minutes.

"We didn't come out with a lot of energy," Memphis coach Marc Iavaroni said. "That was important to our points in the first half. We said we wanted to run them, but didn't want to get into bad situations and take bad shots. They did a good job; give them credit defensively."

Erick Dampier led the Mavs with nine boards to go with his 13 points. Kidd dished out a game-high 11 assists.

While Nowitzki was missing all six of his shots in the first quarter, Dampier put in eight points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked three shots.

"I think Damp's having one of the most underrated years of anybody in the league," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "That first half, we just couldn't get anything going at either end. He kept us in the game."

Josh Howard scored six of his 14 points in a 12-0 run in the first quarter that erased a two-point deficit and put the Mavericks in the driver's seat for good.

Memphis was nearly as cold as Dallas' star forward, making just 4-of-21 first-quarter field goals.

Nowitzki regained his shooting touch in the second quarter to score eight points. Still, the Mavericks were just 20-of-46 (43.5 percent) in the first half and the Grizzlies were 12-of-38 (32 percent).

"In the second half, we picked up our defense a little bit and got some fast breaks off of it," Nowitzki said.

Both teams heated up in the second half, scoring 28 points each in the third quarter. Kyle Lowry scored 11 of his 15 points for the Grizz in that period.

Things continue to get worse for the Grizzlies, whose losing streak increased to four games. That comes on the heels of an impressive stretch earlier this month, during which they won five of six.

Memphis shot just 38 percent (31-of-81), as star rookie O.J. Mayo suffered through a 2-of-10 performance. Hakim Warrick scored a team-high 17 points off the bench and Rudy Gay added 16 on 6-of-14 shooting.

"We made it a real point of emphasis that we had to keep Gay and Mayo from big nights," Carlisle said. "Both Devean George and Josh Howard really stepped up in those assignments and did a terrific job. When you hold them to no 20-point scorers, that's going to put you in a position to win."

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