The Dallas Mavericks no longer are a winless basketball team and they look to complete a sweep of the home-and-home series when they visit the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday. Rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. fueled a 103-94 home win over the Grizzlies on Wednesday, helping Dallas end its season-opening four-game skid.
The Mavericks played their best game of the young season and were aided by Memphis, which played its worst. The Grizzlies opened the season strong with three consecutive wins - including victories over Golden State and Houston - but trailed the Mavericks by 14 points after one quarter and never found their game. Grizzlies coach David Fizdale said his team “didn’t come out with the right mentality,” and point guard Mike Conley has his eyes on payback come Thursday. “The beauty of the league is we get to play again,” Conley told reporters regarding the back-to-back set. “We’ll be ready to go, and we’re looking forward to it.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FSN Southwest (Dallas), FSN Southeast (Memphis)
ABOUT THE MAVERICKS (1-4): The 19-year-old Smith, who was the ninth overall pick in June’s draft, was 8-of-12 while scoring a season-high 19 points on Wednesday. Smith struggled with his shooting two nights earlier - 3-of-11 from the field, 4-of-10 from the line - while scoring 10 points against Golden State standout Stephen Curry. “Smith’s pretty clearly a gamer. He is unafraid,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle told reporters after Wednesday’s win. “Tonight was the biggest amount of responsibility we have put on him to start with that group and really be the main ball-handler. That’s a lot of responsibility. He did a great job and was one of the main reasons we got off to a good start.”
ABOUT THE GRIZZLIES (3-1): Standout center Marc Gasol recorded 26 points and 11 rebounds for his third double-double of the season, but he was deeply concerned by his squad’s defensive issues on Wednesday. “We didn’t get stops,” Gasol told reporters. “It’s that simple. You don’t get stops and you trade baskets, you don’t have a chance to win. You don’t get enough stops, you won’t be able to get over the hump.” Conley scored 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting after going 6-of-24 over his previous two games.
1. The Mavericks have won six of the last eight meetings.
2. Grizzlies SF Chandler Parsons was rested on Wednesday but is slated to play in Memphis.
3. Dallas PF Dirk Nowitzki, who scored a season-high 13 points on Wednesday, will become the seventh player in NBA history to play in 1,400 games when he takes the floor on Thursday.
PREDICTION: Grizzlies 112, Mavericks 103