Nobody, that is, except the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavericks ended the Grizzlies’ five-game win streak on Dec. 8 and on Friday, they did it again with a 112-85 win at FedExForum.
The Grizzlies’ franchise-record 11-game winning streak ended in just their second nationally televised game of the season. They’re 0-2 when featured on ESPN this season but the loss wasn’t from prime-time jitters. It was a twin killing of fatigue and Luka Doncic’s mastery.
The Grizzlies (30-15) had just 30 points in the second half while shooting 30.2% from the field.
Here’s what we learned as the Grizzlies lost for the first time in 2022.
Lost in the Grizzlies’ hot stretch was the amount of games played in a short time. Friday was their eighth in 12 days and it showed in a sloppy third quarter.
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Missed shots and turnovers led to a 17-4 Mavericks run. The Grizzlies shot just 8-for-22 in the period while the Mavericks (23-19) were 13-for-22, including 12-for-17 on two-point field goals. Throw in the Grizzlies playing on the second night of a back-to-back and a bad stretch was bound to happen.
Adding to the poor play was Ja Morant committing eight turnovers, the most since a season-high nine against the Trail Blazers on Oct. 27.
“You’re never looking for excused but we got to acknowledge we were running on fumes tonight,” Grizzlies acting head coach Darko Rajakovic said.
Morant vs. Doncic
Morant had a team-high 19 points with eight assists, but 15 came in the first half. It didn’t help that Doncic, who Morant passed for second in All-Star fan voting, played better after halftime.
Doncic scored 18 of his 27 points in the second half and it came after a few fans chanted “Overrated” while shooting free throws in the third quarter. The All-Star guard added 12 rebounds and 10 assists for his 40th career triple-double, with his final assist coming on a slick behind-the-back, bounce pass to Dwight Powell for a dunk.
Grizzlies fans – and NBA fans watching on ESPN – expected a show between Morant and Doncic. Morant had his highlights, including a twisting layup just before halftime. Doncic stole the battle as he did when he hit a game-winning 3-pointer in Memphis last season.
“I know I was tired, the way I was throwing the ball all over the court. (It’s) one you just got to throw out the window, man,” Morant said.
Future on display
For the first time, the Grizzlies started their last five first-round draft picks with Brandon Clarke joining Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., Desmond Bane and Ziaire Williams in the lineup. Despite the loss, it was a moment to celebrate the work of the Grizzlies’ front office.
Bane had 16 points. Williams had seven first quarter points, including a strong left-handed dunk in the first quarter. Jackson had eight points, eight rebounds and a block on Doncic where he pinned his shot against the backboard. Clarke added nine points and two blocks.
The Grizzlies host the Chicago Bulls in the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Day game on Monday (2:30 p.m., TNT). It’s the first meeting of the season between the teams and the Bulls (27-13) lead the Eastern Conference.
The Bulls, however, won’t have Zach LaVine who suffered a knee injury Friday and didn’t accompany the team on this road trip per coach Billy Donovan.
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You can reach Evan Barnes on Twitter (@Evan_B) or by email at [email protected]
This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Memphis Grizzlies’ 11-game win streak snapped by Dallas Mavericks