Memphis broke a 97-all tie by outscoring the Mavericks 10-5 in the final 1:42 en route to a 107-102 victory Friday night. Rudy Gay had 27 points and 10 rebounds, and Mike Conley added 25 points as Memphis won its third straight game.
"We've got a couple of wins in the last couple of games, and we're feeling pretty good," said reserve point guard Marco Jaric, who had 10 points. "We know we're not a playoff team right now, but we're trying to build for next season."
O.J. Mayo, who put the game out of reach with consecutive baskets, added 19 points and nine rebounds for the Grizzlies. Marc Gasol had 13 points and nine rebounds.
Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 35 points, 25 of them in the second half. Jason Terry scored 16 points, and Erick Dampier, Brandon Bass and Jose Barea had 10 each.
The score was tied at 97 with 3:10 left.
Mayo hit a 3-pointer from the corner with 1:42 left to give Memphis a 100-97 lead, and added a jumper 28 seconds later.
With Dallas' loss and Phoenix's victory over Sacramento, the ninth-place Suns pulled within three games of the eighth-place Mavericks in the race for the last Western Conference playoff spot.
"No question it's a disappointment," Nowitzki said. "We have a great chance here to make sure we get into the playoffs, and even move up, and we lay an egg here in Memphis."
For Memphis, it was an example of small strides made by the bottom-feeding Grizzlies, who long ago were eliminated from the playoffs. Still, Memphis has won four of its past five games.
"I think we're really maturing throughout the year, and really understand how to finish games," Mayo said. "We're getting the stops when we need them, and a big play when we need them defensively."
Memphis opened the second half with an 11-4 run to open a 72-65 lead.
Things got a bit confusing in the third quarter. First, Conley's shot with 3:48 left was ruled a 2-pointer after a 3 was put on the scoreboard. Then, the clock continued to run after Nowitzki's layup with 3:06 left, and officials had to add 7 seconds to correct the clock.
But when all the discussion was over, Dallas had pulled even with Memphis at 77, and had an 85-84 lead at the end of the third.
Nowitzki had 17 points in the quarter.
"We went out and did a great job in the third quarter," Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said, "but we couldn't get away from them. We kept shooting ourselves in the foot, so they came back and took the lead.
"In the fourth quarter, we did a heck of a job guarding them and executing."
And that was an exchange of roles that was unexpected the young Memphis team making the plays down the stretch against the veteran-laden Mavericks.
"They play hard," Dampier said. "Last time I checked, I don' think they're going to be in the playoffs, but they've got something to play for next season. They want to go out and show they still care."
Dampier also realized it was a missed opportunity for Dallas in its run to secure the eighth playoff spot.
"We can't let games like this slip away coming down the home stretch," Dampier said. "It's not like we have any easy games left. We can't overlook anyone."