There have been plenty of personnel changes with the Grizzlies this season. But the one constant has been third-year forward Darrell Arthur's steady brilliance off the bench.
Or make that second year, because Arthur doesn't count last season when a torn pectoral muscle sidelined him for the first 50 games of the year.
"I never really got in shape and never got in rhythm," Arthur said. "I never got in shape."
That's why dating the way back to summer league play last July, Arthur has been blowing and going. Prior to Sunday's one-point win at Dallas, Arthur averaged 13.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 53 percent shooting over the past nine games. He had 13 points and six rebounds against the Mavs.
Arthur has the most consistent mid-range jumper on the team. It's why he's shooting 51 percent from field, because he gets a lot of open looks from about 18 to 19 feet Arthur. More often than not, he drills the open jumper that opposing defenses never seem to close out on.
"If I'm in a pick-and-roll with our point guard Mike Conley," Arthur said, "he'll be holding my guard and force him to make a decision to go after Mike or come and get me. So if he guards Mike, I've got a wide open 'J'. If he comes to me, Mike's got a wide open lay-up.
"I've been playing pretty good this year, playing with a lot of energy. This is the best I've felt since college."
Arthur, who lifts weights before every game, lost 20 pounds in the off-season. Also, he spent working one-on-one with NBA legend Bob Lanier, one of the best post players in league. Arthur's priorities were working on post and midrange shots, and developing a left-handed hook.
"Getting hurt probably helped him, it was like a red-shirt year," Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. "It allowed him to get stronger and get a better feel for the game. When he came back, I thought he helped us. He's just been growing ever since."
GRIZZLIES 104, MAVS 103: The Mavs hit their first 9-of-14 shots, jumped up by 12 points four minutes into the game, dipped briefly and kept on going to a 17-point halftime. Dallas did a nice job of limiting Grizzlies F Zach Randolph by doubling him every time he touched the ball. The Mavs were sending the message they'd have a better chance of winning if they stopped Randolph, who's averaging a double-double for the fifth straight season. Dallas' strategy was correct for awhile. Memphis was down by 18 early in the second half when it rallied back, with point guard Mike Conley getting his team going. The Grizzlies made their first 11-of-14 shots in the third quarter, scored 41 in the period (the most allowed by the Mavs this year in any quarter) and entered the fourth period with a 79-78 lead (just the ninth time Dallas had trailed this year entering the final quarter). Yet in the final, frenzied 14.3 seconds, the Grizzlies prevailed. They took a 102-101 on a Shane Battier reverse follow just before the shot clock sounded with 14.3 left, but Dirk Nowitzki's 16-foot fade over Battier with 3.1 left put Dallas ahead 103-102. Memphis called time twice, then found Randolph for his trademark tippy-toe, high-arching, 17-foot game-winning jumper with three-tenths of a second left.
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