|After OT loss to Celtics, Mavericks visit Grizzlies|
The Dallas Mavericks will put their improved play of late on display Wednesday night when they visit the struggling Memphis Grizzlies.
In a battle of teams that have combined to lose 10 of 11 games played since Nov. 8, the Mavericks will take the court in much finer form than the Grizzlies.
Dallas is coming off one of its best outings of the season, albeit in defeat, when it took the Boston Celtics to overtime before falling 110-102 on Monday night.
The Mavericks (3-15) led by as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter.
Afterward, Dallas forward Harrison Barnes refused to accept a moral victory.
"At the end of the day, it's got to show up in wins and losses," he said. "Tonight we was playing against a great team, and a great opportunity to win here in front of our home fans. We let it slip away."
The Mavericks also have lost six- and seven-point nail-biters to the San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers, respectively, in the past 11 days. Their past two wins were impressive -- 113-99 at Washington and 111-79 at home Saturday against Milwaukee.
The Grizzlies, meanwhile, have just two wins since Oct. 28. They have lost five in a row, including three straight since star point guard Mike Conley was shelved for at least two weeks last Wednesday due to an Achilles injury.
Conley had 21 and 22 points when the Memphis and Dallas split a home-and-home sequence last month. He scored at least 20 points 10 of the past 14 times he saw the Mavericks.
The Grizzlies have averaged just 96 points in the three games since Conley was sidelined -- all home losses. They have shot just 64-for-172 overall (37.2 percent) and 15-for-57 on 3-pointers (26.3 percent) in the past two games, totaling just 83 and 92 points in losses to Houston and Portland, respectively.
Grizzlies coach David Fizdale noted an improved defensive effort Monday against Portland, but holding the Trail Blazers to 100 points wasn't enough to overcome the poor shooting and a 45-35 deficit in rebounds.
"We finally got our defense activated again, and I felt like we were back somewhat looking like our early-season self," Fizdale said. "But the glass just really killed us."
A Mavericks-Grizzlies matchup means a head-to-head between two of the season's most impressive rookies -- Dallas' Dennis Smith Jr. and Memphis' Dillon Brooks.
Smith, the fifth-leading scorer among rookies at 14.1 points per game, had 27 points in the Mavericks' near-miss against the Spurs on Nov. 14. However, he has totaled just 21 points on 9-for-36 shooting in his past three games.
Smith was a driving force in Dallas' 103-94 home win over Memphis in the earlier two-game set against the Grizzlies. He was held to nine points in the 96-91 loss at Memphis the next night.
Brooks, the fifth-leading rookie in field-goal percentage at .459, had a season-high 19 points at Milwaukee on Nov. 13. But like Smith, he has tailed off in his past three games, totaling 22 points while missing all seven of his 3-point attempts.