(Sports Network) – Dirk Nowitzki returned to Dallas’ lineup after a nine-game absence, but an early exit from the star forward combined with a huge night from Memphis’ Zach Randolph led to an 89-70 win for the Grizzlies.
Randolph had 23 points and 20 rebounds for the 11th 20-20 game in team history, as Memphis won for the fifth time in seven games. Darrell Arthur added 17 points and Rudy Gay scored 16 for the Grizzlies.
Nowitzki, who was sidelined due to a sprained right knee, started Saturday’s game, but was ejected in the third quarter after being called for a foul against Randolph. Nowitzki was then hit with a pair of technical fouls and ended the night with seven points and five rebounds in 15 minutes of action.
Ian Mahinmi scored 17 to lead Dallas, which struggled to a 32.4 percent shooting performance and were held to their lowest point total this season. It included a 6-of-31 showing from three-point range. Shawn Marion had 11 points for the Mavs, who have lost five in a row for the first time since a five-game skid from November 7-14, 2008.
There was trouble from the start for the Mavs, as they allowed the Grizzlies to hit 14-of-22 shots in the opening quarter on the way to a 31-19 lead after 12 minutes. There wasn’t much defense early for Dallas, as Randolph’s layup provided a 22-7 difference nearly eight minutes into the contest.
Mahinmi had seven points in the second quarter, but the Mavs continued to struggle offensively and trailed 46-36 at the half. Dallas was 12-of-37 shooting over the first two quarters.
It only got worse for the Mavs, who hit on 5-of-20 shots in the third. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies continued to pull away. A jumper from Gay provided a 65-44 cushion with three minutes left in the period and it was 67-48 going to the fourth.
Memphis led by as many as 23 in the last quarter.
The Mavericks are 50-12 all-time against the Grizzlies, but just 4-5 in their last nine meetings with Memphis. After winning 17-of-18 and improving to 24-5, the Mavericks are just 2-8 in their last 10 games. The Mavs play on the road against Detroit Monday afternoon and will try to avoid their first six-game slide since February 29 to March 9, 2000, which was also a six-game losing streak.