MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -Dirk Nowitzki may have been slowed by an ankle injury, but it didn't slow the Dallas Mavericks.
Nowitzki returned from the second-quarter ankle injury, and the Mavericks, behind 25 points from Jason Terry and 20 more from Shawn Marion, defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 106-91 on Wednesday night.
``This guy is so tough, it is ridiculous' Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said of Nowitzki's return. ``Not many guys would come back in and try to play after rolling an ankle like that. But it really helped us. His presence on the floor changes the geometry of the game, even if he is not touching the ball.'
Terry connected on 11 of 16 shots from the field as Dallas won its fourth out of the last five, including its first three of the season on the road.
Nowitzki had 12 points and 10 rebounds for Dallas despite suffering the ankle injury with just under 4 minutes remaining before halftime. He returned to the game to start the second half.
``It's usually the initial pain that hurts a little bit,' Nowitzki said. ``But as soon as I walked off, it got better. I got re-taped, and it was alright in the second half. It wasn't great, but it was loose enough to play.'
Tyson Chandler and DeShawn Stevenson had 11 apiece, while Jason Kidd handed out 12 assists.
``I thought we spread the ball around great,' Chandler said. ``The wings got out on a run, and we were able to open things up, and obviously Jason Kidd made every right play at the right time.'
Zach Randolph led Memphis with 23 points, while Rudy Gay added 18, both grabbing nine rebounds. Marc Gasol finished with 10 points.
The Grizzlies defeated Dallas 91-90 in Dallas on Oct. 29, and the Mavericks thought they gave away a win in that one. They decided to come out aggressive Wednesday night and not let Memphis back in the game.
The Grizzlies played right into the situation by not responding.
``Even if you are shooting 20 percent, you can still compete by playing defense, rebounding and make the other team have one less point than you,' Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. ``You can't just quit and not compete.'
The Mavericks defense caused problems for Memphis' offensive plans. The Grizzlies were forced outside their normal sets, and there were few uncontested shots.
Memphis struggled from the field, shooting under 40 percent for much of the first half before finally hitting 44 percent.
Meanwhile, Dallas was hitting at a pace above 50 percent, including 5 of 10 from outside the arc. When the Mavericks weren't connecting from outside, they were getting to the rim for high percentage shots.
That helped the Mavericks build a 13-point lead in the second quarter, and carry a 55-50 lead into halftime behind Terry's 15 points.
Randolph had 15 points, while Gay added 14 before the break.
Dallas continued its accurate shooting after intermission, going on an 18-5 run, extending its advantage to 73-55 on consecutive inside baskets by Marion. And Memphis continued to get beat inside with Mavericks slashing by the Grizzlies to the basket.
That was indicative of the game as Dallas outscored Memphis 54-46 in the paint.
Dallas maintained the double-digit advantage carrying a 86-69 lead into the final period.
``Defense was the key,' Memphis guard Mike Conley said. ``They were able to run whatever they wanted to, and we weren't being aggressive. We weren't able to stop them.'
The Mavericks would stretch the difference to 21 midway in the fourth, a lead big enough that Nowitzki was able to rest his tender ankle for the final 8 minutes.
``It's just one in 82 (games),' Hollins said of the Memphis effort. ``You try to win as many as you can. You try not to have a whole lot of these stinkers.
``That's what this was. A stinker.'
Notes: Dallas starting F Caron Butler was not with the team Wednesday night. He stayed in Dallas with back spasms he suffered in Monday's 89-87 victory over Boston. Marion started in Butler's spot and Steve Novak was active for the first time this season. ... It was the first game of the season that Gay didn't reach 20 points and snapped a streak of nine straight, extending back to last season. ... The Mavericks had 30 assists against Memphis. Dallas has recorded at least 20 assists in all but one game this season. ... Memphis has been held under 100 points only twice this season, both times by the Mavericks. ... Memphis rookie Greivis Vasquez scored his first points of the year in the game on a 3-point basket.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved