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Grizzlies take big early lead, hold off Mavericks

Associated Press Modified: April 7, 2012 at 11:46 pm •  Published: April 7, 2012

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Memphis Grizzlies landed a solid first-quarter shot on the Dallas Mavericks and dropped the defending NBA champs further down the Western Conference playoff ladder.

Rudy Gay scored 25 points, Zach Randolph added 15 points and 11 rebounds, and the Grizzlies built an early 20-point lead and held on to beat the Mavericks 94-89 on Saturday night.

In the tightly contested Western Conference, Memphis moved two games up in the race for fifth place on Dallas, which is in a three-way fight for sixth and barely holding on to a spot.

"We're now eighth or ninth, so we've got to fight," said Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki, who led the Mavericks with 17 points and eight rebounds. ".We've got to battle and win some games."

Gilbert Arenas added 14 points and made three 3-pointers, while Mike Conley finished with 12 points for Memphis, which won its second straight and seventh in the last nine games.

Arenas helped the Grizzlies hold on when the Mavericks rallied in the second half. His timely 3-point shooting turned back several Dallas runs, the long-range shooting adding a dimension the Grizzlies have wanted.

"It's like he's a video game player. It's just automatic," Conley said. "It's fun to watch when he's shooting like that, and we need that."

Added Memphis coach Lionel Hollins: "Gilbert hitting the 3s has been huge. He has brought in a new spirit for our guys, and it is contagious."

Brandan Wright added a season-high 16 points for Dallas, while Vince Carter had 14 points. Shawn Marion finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds in the Mavericks' second straight loss.

Memphis claimed the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Mavs by winning the season series 2-1.

"Looking at the standings should get us even more motivated," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "I'm not a big watcher of the standings, but for anybody that is, it brings to the forefront the urgency of the situation."

The Mavericks weathered an early 20-point Memphis advantage and pulled close midway through the third period.

But the Grizzlies never let Dallas take the lead, although four free throws by Nowitzki down the stretch cut the Memphis lead to 92-89 with 21.5 seconds left.

Randolph hit a pair of free throws 6 seconds later, and Marc Gasol stole an inbounds pass in the closing seconds to preserve the Memphis victory.

"Tough isn't the word," Marion said. "It's just frustrating in all aspects. We dug ourselves a deep hole."

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