The Memphis Grizzlies were expected to plummet in the standings after star Ja Morant suffered a left knee sprain almost two weeks ago. Instead, they’ve become nearly unstoppable.
Memphis has won five straight without leading scorer Morant and looks to maintain its momentum on Wednesday against the visiting Dallas Mavericks, who have lost eight of their last 10 games.
Dillon Brooks is averaging 17.3 points on 40.9 percent shooting for the Grizzlies, whose win streak includes an NBA-record 73-point victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder last Thursday.
Memphis has moved into fourth place in the Western Conference while holding its last four opponents under 92 points. The team has not trailed once during the streak.
“Guys are buying in, guys are wanting to take that next step of being a great team and getting ready for what’s ahead,” Brooks said. “We are so unselfish. We respond with relentlessness that a lot of teams don’t have.”
The Grizzlies begin a four-game homestand against a Dallas team that blew a 17-point lead Tuesday in a 102-99 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.
At 11-12, the Mavericks are under .500 for the first time since they were 0-1.
After losing five straight at home, Dallas aims for a fresh start on the road. The Mavericks play their next three away from American Airlines Center, beginning in Memphis.
The teams are meeting for the second time in five days after the Grizzlies led wire-to-wire in a 97-90 victory in Dallas last Saturday.
Memphis guard Desmond Bane made four 3-pointers and scored a career-high 29 points in the win and is averaging 16.1 points while shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc.
“We talked about it in pregame that he’s one of their better players and he’s playing at a high level for them, and he did that,” Dallas coach Jason Kidd said. “There were no secrets about the way he’s playing when we talked about him in the locker room.
“He got into the paint and he shot the three well. So we’ve got to do a better job when we play them (on Wednesday).”
Dallas played without injured stars Luka Doncic and Porzingis last Saturday, but both will be available for the rematch.
Porzingis returned Tuesday after missing two games with a left knee contusion and tallied 17 points and 12 rebounds in the loss to the Nets.
Doncic had 28 points and nine assists in the loss but was 3 of 11 shooting from 3-point range.
After the game, Doncic addressed the criticism he had been receiving about his weight and lack of conditioning.
“People are going to talk about it, … but I know I’ve got to do better,” Doncic said. “I had a long summer. I think I relaxed a little bit, not taking care, but I’ve got to be better. I had the Olympics, took three weeks off, and I relaxed a little bit, maybe too much. I’ve just got to get back on track.”
The two-time All-Star is averaging 20.6 points per game, his lowest scoring average against any franchise, in seven career games against the Grizzlies.
Dallas entered Tuesday’s action ranked 25th in the league in scoring at 104.5 points per game. The Mavericks shot 9 of 46 (19.6 percent) from 3-point range in the loss Tuesday.
“We’re a jump-shooting team that’s not making jump shots,” Kidd said.
Kidd is exercising patience with forward Reggie Bullock, who has struggled in his first season with the team.
Bullock’s shooting woes continued Tuesday, when he was held to six points on 3-of-10 shooting, including 0 for 6 from 3-point range.
–Field Level Media