A third consecutive win Tuesday night with three regular-season games yet to play puts the Memphis Grizzlies in control of their own play-in tournament fate as they grind toward a Western Conference Playoffs birth.
The Grizzlies saddled the Dallas Mavericks with a no-doubt 133-104 loss at FedExForum, winning for the first time this season against Dallas. With a 36-33 record, Memphis has secured a spot in the four-team, play-in tournament and now is fighting for seeding.
With Golden State’s win over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, the Grizzlies remain a half-game behind the Warriors in pursuit of the eighth seed in the Western Conference. The play-in tournament format calls for seeds seven and eight to play, with the winner making the playoffs. The loser plays the winner of the matchup between seeds nine and ten for the remaining playoffs spot.
Memphis closes the season on the road against Golden State on Sunday (May 16). They finish the home regular season with a pair of games against the Sacramento Kings on Thursday and Friday.
Beating Dallas on Tuesday night meant the Grizzlies had to account for All-Star Luka Doncic, who hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to propel the Mavericks to victory the last time the two teams met. Doncic was limited to 12 points, five assists and five rebounds in 25 minutes.
Head coach Taylor Jenkins said “huge credit” was due to Dillon Brooks, who handled much of the duty of defending Doncic.
“(He) got a lot of those minutes on him, but there was a stretch there in that first half where we had (De’Anthony Melton) on him,” Jenkins said. “We were switching and we had bigs on him … we threw different things at him.”
Memphis led by one (28-27) after the first quarter. The score was tied at 57 with seconds remaining in the second frame when Brooks hit a three-pointer as time expired.
The Grizzlies rolled in the third quarter, outscoring the Mavericks by 11 (36-25).
“I think our starters set a really good tone there in that third quarter. Our defense was big for us,” Jenkins said.
Ja Morant, Memphis’ floor general, sat out the entire fourth quarter after registering 24 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds
“No matter who we have out there on the floor, we all have to be locked in, be ready to play,” Morant said. “When we handle our business and do what we’re supposed to do, we are able to have fun and laugh, because it will most likely result in a win.
“But we always have to have fun with what we’re doing. We’re blessed; not too many people have the opportunity we have, making it to ‘the league.’ So you got to enjoy every bit of it. … So we were just being ourselves tonight and also handling business while doing it.”
Brooks took over in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 of his 22 points. With the loss, the Mavericks fell into a fifth-place tie with the Portland Trailblazers. Both teams are two games ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers and have the tiebreaker to avoid the play-in tournament.
- The Grizzlies got the win over the Mavericks without the services of two of the team’s best post players – Jonas Valanciunas and Jaren Jackson Jr. Both sat out the game to rest.
- John Konchar, who had nine points in the win against New Orleans in the previous game, had another good game off the bench, scoring 18 points and racking six rebounds. Asked earlier this week about staying focused, Konchar said, “We have play groups when people aren’t in the rotation. You just got to play that. Whenever your number is called you just always have to be ready. You got to stay ready at all times.”