Mavs Halt Skid in Convincing Fashion

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Chris Graythen
    Dallas Mavericks forward, #41 Dirk Nowitzki.

    The Dallas Mavericks got Caron Butler back on track offensively, and their defense also showed signs of emerging from a recent slump.

    Butler scored 23 points after managing 11 in his previous two games, Dirk Nowitzki added 22 points and nine rebounds, and the Mavericks stopped a two-game skid with a 110-84 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night.

    Butler, who was 3 for 15 from the floor in the back-to-back losses, hit 10-of-17 field goal attempts and pulled down six rebounds against Memphis.

    Butler studied tape the last few days in an effort to get better looks at the basket.

    "I wanted to continue to stay aggressive," Butler said. "I hit a rough patch and I had to stay positive. A lot of other people were in panic mode, but I've been here before. I wanted to keep looking for my shot and do what I can to help the team win."

    Butler scored 11 in the opening quarter and 17 in the first half, his best-scoring half since joining the Mavericks in a trade with Washington on Feb. 13.

    If the Mavericks hope to make a deep playoff run, they'll need a productive Butler.

    "He's such a hard-driving, team-oriented guy who's so into winning, and he wants to feel like he's pulling his weight," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said.

    Jason Terry contributed 16 points, J.J. Barea had 14, and Jason Kidd had 12 points and 10 assists for Dallas, which is battling Utah, Denver, Phoenix and Oklahoma City for the No. 2 playoff seed in the West.

    Dallas had been off for three days, and Carlisle's focus at practice was on improving a defense that had been burned for 100-plus points in seven of the previous 11 games.

    The Mavericks forced 20 Memphis turnovers and improved to 6-6 since the end of a season-best, 13-game winning streak.

    Dallas scored 30 points off turnovers to eight for Memphis.

    "We needed to play better basketball," Carlisle said. "Any win you can get right now is precious. It's a positive step. I thought we were more solid (defensively) than we've been the last few games."

    Rudy Gay scored 23 points for Memphis, which lost its ninth in a row on the road against Dallas. Zach Randolph added 17 points and 13 rebounds, and Mike Conley also scored 17 for the Grizzlies, who've dropped six of seven.

    "You can't quit," Conley said. "We have goals like making the playoffs, and we understand that we aren't in it, but we still have to be able to play no matter who we are playing or no matter who is out on the court. We have to play at 100 percent effort and we didn't bring that tonight."

    The Grizzlies seemed weary after losing 113-103 to Houston at home on Tuesday night.

    Dallas held a 78-66 edge after three quarters, and Terry opened the final quarter with a dunk and a 3-pointer to stretch the advantage to 83-66. The Mavericks went on to lead by as many as 26 down the stretch.

    The Grizzlies turned the ball over on each of their final five possessions of the first quarter as Dallas finished the period with a 16-3 spurt.

    "It was unbelievable, the turnovers," Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. "We just kept giving them the ball, giving them the ball, and they'd run it down our throat or shoot 3s. Then they were moving the ball really well one stretch, and every time they moved it to an open guy he made a shot. That just broke our will."

    Kidd hit all three 3-point attempts in the first quarter to help Dallas to a 33-20 lead.

    Turnovers plagued Memphis in the first half, with Dallas turning 12 miscues into 18 points to roll to a 46-26 advantage with 6:13 remaining until halftime.

    The Grizzlies took better care of the ball over the rest of the first half, reducing the deficit to 57-45 at the break.

    NOTES: Dallas F Shawn Marion (left oblique strain) missed his second straight game. Butler moved to forward for Marion with G DeShawn Stevenson getting his third start since joining the Mavs. ... Barea tied a career high with four steals. ... Kidd was accidentally poked in the right eye by Randolph while jostling for rebounding position late in the third quarter. Kidd rolled to the floor in pain, but soon scrambled to his feet and was able to continue after he was briefly checked out by team trainer Casey Smith. ... The Grizzlies' last win in Dallas was on Nov. 26, 2005.