The Dallas Mavericks won one of their biggest games of the 2013-14 season on Wednesday, Feb. 5 in Memphis. The Mavericks and Grizzlies have been battling for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference for the last week and this was a game that could have playoff implications down the road.
The Grizzlies had won 11 of 13 games coming into the contest and the importance of this game was not lost on the Mavericks.
The strength of the Grizzlies is their superior frontcourt. Center Marc Gasol and power forward Zach Randolph are a physical duo with the capability to score inside and control the paint. For the Mavericks to contend with the Grizzlies down low, it was imperative that Dallas received strong play from center Samuel Dalembert.
Dalembert was looking to build on one his best games of the season. In the Mavericks’ 124-107 home win against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, Feb. 3, Dalembert had 18 points and eight rebounds. Only once this season had Dalembert exceeded 18 points and the Mavericks were hopeful this was a sign their inconsistent center was beginning to turn things around.
Having a good game against the Cleveland Cavaliers may have been encouraging, but it was far from the test the Mavericks would receive in Memphis two nights later.
Dallas has struggled on the road against Western Conference teams with a winning record and there was reason to be skeptical about their chances heading into the game.
The Mavericks responded to the test and won the game convincingly, 110-96. Dallas also dominated play around the basket, outscoring Memphis 56-32 in the paint. This was a big win for the Mavs, who received yet another solid performance from center Samuel Dalembert. While battling foul trouble, Dalembert not only limited Grizzlies center Marc Gasol to 12 points and five rebounds, he also chipped in 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the winning effort.
It may only be a two-game stretch, but they are the best consecutive games that Dalembert has put together this season for Dallas. The Mavericks don’t need Dalembert to be a 20-point, 10-rebound performer on a nightly basis to contend with the top teams in the Western Conference. They just needs a level of consistency from the center position, something they have yet to enjoy this season.
The Mavericks have been patient with Dalembert and they have supported him throughout the season, even when his play was not meeting expectations. The patience the Mavericks organization has shown may be finally paying off.
When Dalembert brings a focused effort, the Mavericks are showing they can be a dangerous team. The key for Dalembert will be to build on this stretch, and demonstrate to his teammates and coaching staff he can be a consistent difference maker for Dallas down the stretch.