For the Dallas Mavericks, no games mean no problems.

And in Monday’s 102-92 win against the Grizzlies, Dallas clearly didn’t miss a beat, even with multiple game postponements in the last eight days due to severe weather conditions.

“We played an angry game today,” Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said. “The Portland loss left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. And Memphis is a good team. But when you’re playing like this, it becomes less focused on who is doing what, and more focused on collectively how we are doing what we are supposed to do.”

The breakdown:

In the first quarter, Dallas allowed its defense to set the tone holding the Grizzlies to 24 percent from the field and 11 percent from three. Players like Josh Richardson and Maxi Kleber flew around the court at an incredible pace, disrupting and disturbing what Memphis wanted to do offensively.

As a result, Dallas scored seven fast-break points in the quarter and Richardson became the benefactor of opportunistic offense. He scored 11 of his 17 points in the first frame.

“Everything starts on the defensive end. When we are playing on fast breaks and the ball is moving we are tough to stop,” Richardson said. “When the ball is moving I can play more aggressively.”

Memphis came into the game with the best field goal offense in the NBA (46 percent). At halftime, Dallas held the Grizzlies to only 36 points. Well under what Memphis typically hopes for during games. And by the end of the game, Dallas held Memphis to an underwhelming 41 percent field goal shooting.

Dallas never looked back from its devasting initial 20-5 first-quarter run. Richardson’s defense made it difficult on Ja Morant all night. And the group effort in the absence of Kristaps Porzingis allowed for an encouraging game from the Mavericks, who have now won five of the last six games.

The game by the numbers:

Tim Hardaway Jr is one of the best ‘heat check’ guys in the league. And throughout Dallas’ bout with Memphis, shooting the ball for him was like throwing a golf ball in the ocean.

“I guess those eight days off really helped,” Hardaway Jr. said. “When I see one or two [shots] go in, it’s pretty much an ocean for me. The game just comes naturally.”

Hardaway Jr. finished the game leading the Mavs in scoring with 29 points and seven made three-pointers. His offense changes the complexion of the team. Routinely Luka Doncic will draw two defenders on drives, but Hardaway’s ability to knock down catch and shoot threes makes teams pay for the extra attention paid to Doncic.

“Hardaway’s been great. He’s an edgy competitor that is a winner,” Carlisle said. “He comes into the game and he is looking to impact the game.”

When Hardaway Jr. makes shots, the Mavs offense is difficult to stop. With Richardson and Hardaway Jr both making perimeter shots, the Mavs are unguardable.

As Dallas heads into a difficult stretch of games featuring Boston, Philadelphia and Brooklyn the Mavs need the same production from its non-Luka contributors that it got from both Hardaway Jr and Richardson on Monday.

Looking ahead:

The elephant in the room is how Dallas closed the game out. Though the Mavs won by 10, it shouldn’t have been that close at the end of the game. Carlisle attributed the horrendous last three minutes to guys playing for themselves.

“At times when it became about individual stuff, it became ugly,” he said. “The last three minutes, I am not going to write home about it.”

The last three minutes may have been ugly, but the Mavs still beat a good basketball team Monday night. And quietly Dallas is starting to climb the Western Conference standings, making up ground it lost during the difficult start to the season.

Next up is the Boston Celtics, who lost an overtime heartbreaker to the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday. The Mavericks are sure to get Boston’s best efforts, but there is confidence in this Dallas team that didn’t exist a month ago. It might be safe to finally say Dallas has its mojo back.

Feature imagine via Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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