Preview: Mayo looks for bounce-back game vs. his former team in Memphis
Earl K. Sneed reports from Memphis and previews the Dallas Mavericks' road matchup with the Southwest Division-leading Grizzlies, as leading scorer O.J. Mayo faces his former team for the first time.
Preview: Mavericks (12-14) at Grizzlies (17-6)
Mayo looks for bounce-back game vs. his former team in Memphis
Posting just eight points after a 3-of-14 shooting night in a 110-95 home loss to Miami to begin a tough home-road back-to-back, Mayo admits he will have to play much better against the No. 1 scoring defense in the league as the Southwest Division-leading Memphis Grizzlies come into the night allowing just 89.5 points per game. And with the sharpshooter set to face his former club for the first time since Memphis cut him loose this offseason and opened the way for his eventual free-agent signing in Dallas, you can certainly expect a bounce-back effort from the Mavericks’ leading scorer Friday night.
“I was just missing shots, man. It wasn’t a good one,” Mayo said while summing up his night against the Heat. “You wish you could play good every night, but sometimes it’s just not a good one. … They were contesting hard, playing hard, rotating. It just wasn’t a good one for me.
“This is how the NBA goes,” he added. “Have a bad one tonight, have another one tomorrow to have an opportunity to play well and get a win. Go win the game. [The Grizzlies] made the decision they made and they’re a heck of a team. They’re playing well right now, so go in there and compete well and play hard.”
But with defenses geared towards stopping Mayo with 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki (right knee surgery) still sidelined, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle admits that something must first be done to get his team’s No. 1 scoring option better results.
Against the trapping Miami defense, Carlisle confesses that Mayo’s adjustments to seeing double-teams was poor at times while the Mavericks (12-14) shot just 38.5 percent as a squad. Still, the coach knows the short-handed Mavs will need to rely on Mayo for stretches, after playing without starting point guard Derek Fisher for the first of at least three games while big men Elton Brand (groin) and Brandan Wright (sprained right ankle) were also late scratches in the loss to Miami.
And with the statuses of Brand and Wright still unclear, the Mavericks as a team will attempt to bounce back in the FedExForum despite just a 4-10 record on the road this season.
“They were trapping him, and in those situations he has to take advantage of being trapped,” Carlisle said of Mayo’s struggling night. “He has to move the ball quickly. There were a couple of times he did it and there were a couple of times he didn’t when they threatened the ball and created bad situations for us. We are playing a random game right now because of our personnel situation. It’s how we’re set up. We aren’t running a lot of plays designed for O.J.
“[The Heat] were playing us tough all night,” he added. “They were making tough shots when we weren’t, then we had more poor breakdowns as the game went on. It was very disappointing on how we played, but we’ll have to forget it quickly because we have another tough one [Friday].”
Meanwhile, the Grizzlies (17-6) will try to further separate themselves from the Mavs in the division standings, riding a three-game winning streak into the first of four meetings between the two squads this season.
Note The Mavericks head back out on the road, stopping in Memphis for the second night of a back-to-back Friday against the Grizzlies. It will be Mayo’s first game against his former team since signing with the Mavs as a free agent this offseason. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7 p.m. CT.