Recap: Grizzlies hound Mayo, ruin his return to Memphis
Earl K. Sneed reports from Memphis, where the Grizzlies ruined O.J. Mayo's return to face his former team while handing the Dallas Mavericks a second straight loss.
Recap: Mavericks 82 at Grizzlies 92
Grizzlies hound Mayo, ruin his return to Memphis
Leading the Dallas Mavericks into the first of four Southwest Division matchups against his former team, Mayo was somewhat at a loss as he asked for assistance to find the visitors’ locker room. Still, after Memphis cut ties with the sharpshooter this offseason before his eventual free-agent signing in Dallas, it was clear to the Mavs’ leading scorer that he would have a new place to call home this season. And following a dreadful 3-for-14 shooting performance against the NBA champion Miami Heat in Thursday’s 110-95 thumping at home, Mayo couldn’t wait to redeem himself against his old teammates.
“It’s a lot different, I didn’t even know where to go,” Mayo said as he returned to the Grizzlies’ home gym. “Coming to the locker room, a nice locker room, and seeing some of the ball boys that I’ve been working with the last four years, it was good.”
He added: “The vision was seen differently through different people’s eyes. Whether for the better or for the worse, I think both sides are happy.”
Mayo then attempted to attack the league’s No. 1 scoring defense while leading his new squad to a much-needed road victory on the second night of a back-to-back. Meanwhile, the short-handed Mavs welcomed one of their four — Dirk Nowitzki, Derek Fisher, Elton Brand and Brandan Wright — missing pieces back, as Wright returned to the floor after missing Thursday’s loss with a sprained right ankle.
But with Mayo struggling for the second straight night the Dallas offense would again suffer. And despite a valiant effort, the Mavericks (12-15) would fall three games below .500 after a 92-82 defeat.
Hoping to make a quick splash, Mayo aggressively looked for his own shot from the opening tip. But the Mavs would miss their first five shot attempts of the night while the Grizzlies (18-6) opened with a 6-0 spurt that eventually ballooned a 14-4 lead. The Mavs then rallied right back behind the play of their bench and third-year guard Dominique Jones’ engineering of the offense.
“I liked the way he played. He played with a lot of force,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said of Jones’ night as he tied a career-high for assists set just 24 hours prior. “We were down early and he came in and helped us change the game with a physical presence and he was attacking. He did a lot of good things and continues to build on some positive efforts.”
But after the Mavs inched to within four, the Grizzlies regained control, holding the visiting team to its season-low scoring output for any first quarter as the Dallas squad faced a 25-16 deficit after one.
After seven turnovers and just seven field goals in the first quarter, the Mavs opened the second period with seven straight misses from the field. Still, the Mavericks hung around until back-to-back breakaway slams by Quincy Pondexter and Rudy Gay forced a timeout by Carlisle with his team down 35-25 with 5:07 left in the half.
The inside presence of Wright and the instant scoring of sixth man Vince Carter would again calm the Mavs down, however. And after Dominique Jones’ score with 1.3 seconds in the half, the Mavericks trailed by just one, 40-39, entering the halftime intermission in the hostile venue.
Led by Carter’s nine points off the bench, the Mavs remained in the low–scoring affair despite 13 turnovers and 34.1 percent shooting compared to just eight giveaways and 37.8 percent from the field for Memphis at the half. The Mavs also held a slight 27-24 rebounding edge and 24-22 advantage in points in the paint.
After choosing to start point guard Darren Collison with Fisher (strained right patellar tendon) out for a second of at least three games, Carlisle was forced to roll with Dominique Jones as the second half got underway with Collison still in the locker room due to an illness. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies would gain the upper hand with 14 straight points after Mayo tied the game at 49-all with two free throws before also ending the Memphis spurt with his first make of the night following five straight misses.
“It was kind of hard getting in a groove obviously,” Mayo admitted. “It was just a little different obviously. They know my tendencies and it was pretty much, ‘O.J.’s not gonna get nothing and let’s make other guys make some plays in order for them to win.’ And we battled, though. I thought we hung in there and it’s just an error or two too many down the stretch.”
And with the run finishing at 20-3 before a 3-pointer by Carter and a jumper by Wright to close the third, the Grizzlies escaped into the fourth with a 69-57 advantage.
A 3-pointer by seldom-used Rodrigue Beaubois would get the Mavs off to a quick start to begin the final 12 minutes of play. A three-point play by Dahntay Jones and a baseline score for Shawn Marion would then follow, as the Mavs opened the fourth with a 9-2 spurt.
And after the Grizzlies again went ahead by 10, Dominique Jones continued to attack, hitting on a driving lefty and-one before feeding Marion for a score to cut the deficit to three, 86-83, with 6:15 remaining after the Mavs switched to a small-ball lineup.
But after back-to-back three-point plays by Gay and Zach Randolph powered an 8-0 run, the Grizzlies would settle down in front of their hometown fans. The Mavs then suffered a setback when Wright landed hard on his bad right ankle before exiting the game. Still, with a runner by Mayo before a transition score by Marion, the Mavs trailed by just five with 2:40 on the clock.
“We never could get over that hump tonight. We were right there scratching and clawing, climbing that hill, but we never could get over it tonight,” Marion said. “Sometimes it happens like that. Everybody was scratching and clawing, we just ran out of juice at the end.”
After a Tony Allen score, Mayo tried to come on late with a 3 from the wing over his former teammate to keep the Mavericks within six. But Dallas’ inability to keep the Grizzlies off the offensive glass would eventually seal their fate, before Marc Gasol’s jumper to put his team ahead by eight with 41.0 ticks left. The big man then finished the night with free throws down the stretch to up the margin of victory to 10.
“It’s tough. The smaller group got us back into the game, got us very close and then their length was a major factor at the end,” Carlisle said of the final few possessions.
“We’re undermanned and coming off a late night, back-to-back, and the guys really hung in,” he continued. “They gave what they could give. I was really happy with how everybody fought. There’s not much consolation when you lose, but the effort was good.”
Following up the disappointing personal showing against Miami with yet another poor shooting night, Mayo finished with just 10 points on 3-of-11 from the field.
“It’s crazy. We watched film for the short flight we had coming from Dallas last night and it’s one of those situations where you’ve got to be patient but not too patient,” Mayo said as he tries to adjust to being the main focus of opposing defenses. “Obviously it’s my first time dealing with this. … It’s my first time dealing with those types of schemes. So, I have to try to be patient and not try to press too much to where it hurts the team but remain focused and aggressive when I can and just try to make the right play.”
“I thought O.J. did a good job of letting the game come to him,” Carlisle added. "He forced a couple of shots, but he made some very nice passes and did some good things defensively. The first game back to your old place is always challenging from an emotional standpoint.”
Meanwhile, Marion and Carter led five Mavs in double figures with 14 points apiece, while Dominique Jones added 13 points and seven assists and Wright pitched in 12 points off the bench.
Leading three Grizzlies in double figures with a game-high 26 points was Gay, as Memphis’ 40.4 percent shooting was just bettered by Dallas’ 40.8 percent. The Grizzlies also finished with a 47-42 rebounding advantage despite Marion’s double-double with 11 boards, while Dallas’ 24 turnovers led to 29 Memphis points.
“Right now, we need to learn from our losses,” Carter concluded. “It’s a tough way to learn, but at the same time this is good for us. It’s just a tough stretch for us right now, but it’s important for the veterans to believe, stick with it and continue to bring the young guys along.”
“It seems like we can’t catch a break. They’re a handful and we didn’t make it easy on ourselves with the turnovers. If we didn’t turn the ball over … we come in and get one. But turnovers is our Achilles’ heel again and of course injuries. It seems like everybody is going down like flies around here but we’ve got to stay positive and keep going out here and keep fighting,” Marion added.
Note: The Mavericks will now continue their road trip by stopping in San Antonio Sunday evening for the first of four meetings this season against the Southwest Division rival Spurs. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 6 p.m. CT.