Mavs 94, Grizzlies 79

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DALLAS – If the Memphis Grizzlies keep playing like this, they’ll never win a playoff game.

The Grizzlies went 16 straight possessions without a point and 10:47 between baskets over the middle two quarters, taking them out of what had been a close game and sending the Dallas Mavericks to a 94-79 victory Wednesday night and a 2-0 lead in their first-round series.

Dirk Nowitzki scored 31 points to drop Memphis to 0-10 in its postseason history; that’s four more losses than any NBA team has ever had before its first victory. The Grizzlies will head home for Game 3 on Saturday halfway to being swept for the third straight year.

Memphis actually started great, getting Pau Gasol rolling early and not making a turnover the entire first quarter. The Grizzlies led by four early in the second quarter, until Nowitzki scored every point in a 9-0 run that put the Mavericks ahead for good.

Then came the stretch when Memphis reverted to the Vancouver Grizzlies of the late 1990s.

After Chucky Atkins made a layup with 7:07 left in the second quarter, they didn’t get another field goal until a dunk by Eddie Jones with 8:20 left in the third. Memphis’ only points in between were four free throws.

All told, the Grizzlies went from down by three to trailing by 19 and thinking about what they might do differently this weekend.

Dallas’ Avery Johnson was presented his coach of the year trophy before the game largely for getting the Mavericks to play solid defense, but they only get partial credit for Memphis’ meltdown.

The Grizzlies missed only eight shots during their do-no-right period, hurting themselves more by committing nine turnovers. They also stopped themselves three times with offensive fouls and mixed in a lane violation that wiped out a free throw by Gasol. The call sent him to his knees in disgust.

Things didn’t get any better after Jones’ drought-buster. Memphis finished the third quarter with 13 points, only one more than it had in the second.

Dallas got sloppy, too, going through a stretch of six straight misses and three turnovers. It hardly mattered as the Grizzlies scored only four points off all that.

Gasol scored 10 points in the first quarter, but finished with 16. Bobby Jackson scored 12 and Jones – who organized a players-only dinner Monday night to try rallying the troops – scored 11.

Nowitzki matched his Game 1 scoring total. The only difference was he had 21 in the first half this time, two more than the opener.

Josh Howard scored 17 points and Jason Terry had 16 and nine assists. Erick Dampier wasn’t as active as he’d been in the opener, but still managed eight points and six rebounds.

Griffin scored six, including a dunk on a fast break during Memphis’ awful stretch that left teammates Jerry Stackhouse, Marquis Daniels and Darrell Armstrong cracking up on the bench.

Neither team liked the officiating in the whistle-filled second quarter, with Grizzlies coach Mike Fratello and Stackhouse both getting technicals for complaining. There were a whopping 16 offensive fouls called in the game.

Notes: Johnson said he had more than 50 calls from well-wishers, including two he noted as being very special to him – from Detroit president of basketball operations Joe Dumars and Spurs point guard Tony Parker. Said Dumars: “Avery is my homeboy, we’re both Louisiana guys and we actually pull for each other. I was happy for him.” … When Johnson received his trophy from team owner Mark Cuban, he turned to the bench and pointed, a thank-you gesture to his players. … Johnson had a new golf bag in his office. “I don’t want to use that until about July 1,” he said.

AP-ES-04-26-06 2250EDT

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