Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 12/22/12
MEMPHIS - Guard Tony Allen understands his role is to let teammates Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley handle the brunt of the scoring load for the Memphis Grizzlies. As for Allen, he willingly accepts a different responsibility, one that has helped the Grizzlies lead the Western Conference's Southwest Division. For the second time in as many games, Allen drew the challenging assignment of disrupting the opposition's leading scorer, and for the second straight game he succeeded. Allen limited Dallas Mavericks guard O.J. Mayo, the former Grizzlies reserve, to 10 points - 10 points below his average - as Memphis held its 23rd straight opponent to fewer than 100 points in a 92-82 victory Friday night at FedExForum. Mayo didn't score in the first half until dropping in a free throw in the closing seconds. He finished 3-of-11 shooting. In a win over the Milwaukee Bucks Wednesday night, Allen hounded Monta Ellis into a 1-for-14 shooting night that ended with Ellis scoring four points, or 14 below his average. "That's my role," Allen said. "I'm going to fill it best I can night in and night out. O.J. is capable of getting points in bunches. I was just trying to make it difficult. I just wanted to respond to the challenge." With Mayo unable to get many good looks at the basket, the Mavericks struggled offensively, shooting 41 percent for the game and 6-for-21 from 3-point range. Mayo, who entered the game leading the NBA in 3-point percentage (50.0), was 1-of-4 from beyond the arc. "I told Tony `You are going to guard (Mayo) whenever he is in the game," Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. "O.J. is a big catalyst of that team. They go (through) him to get in the flow." Gay led the Grizzlies, off to a franchise-best 18-6 start, with 26 points, while Randolph had 17 points and 13 rebounds for his league-leading 20th double-double of the season. Conley finished with 11 assists and surpassed Jason Williams as the franchise's career assists leader. Conley has 2,079. Dallas (12-15) was led by Shawn Marion and Vince Carter, who scored 14 points each. Marion added 11 rebounds. But it was Allen's tenacious defensive play that kept a poor-shooting Grizzlies team from losing to Dallas, which played without 11-time all star Dirk Nowitski - who is expected back after Christmas - and starting point guard Derek Fisher, out with a knee injury. Mayo admitted the Grizzlies "know my tendencies," a familiarity that made it difficult for him to get into a rhythm. Conley said Allen makes it hard for anyone he's guarding. "He's persistent," Conley said. "If you pump-fake him once and he jumps past you, you think he might be out of the play, but he's hawking you down and blocking you from behind and stripping you. He's just so aggressive and physical." The Grizzlies led 69-57 entering the final quarter, but the Mavericks cut the advantage to 76-73 with 6:15 left after a Dominique Jones three-point play was followed by a short baseline jumper by Marion. Memphis quickly regrouped behind consecutive three-point plays by Gay and Randolph for an 82-73 cushion. Dallas made one last run, but Gasol grabbed two offensive rebounds during a late Memphis possession and closed it with 22-foot straightaway jumper for a 90-82 lead with 41 seconds to go. Gasol also had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. "We battled," Mayo said. "I thought we hung in there. It was just (being) down too many (points) down the stretch." NOTES: Nowitzki, who has yet to play this season following knee surgery, and Fisher, who suffered a right patellar tendon strain Tuesday against the Philadelphia 76ers, did not play. Forward Elton Brand (groin strain) also missed the game. But Brandan Wright, a needed big body against the Grizzlies' physical front line, was given clearance to play after spraining his right ankle Tuesday against the 76ers. Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said Brand, in his 13th NBA season, "is making progress" toward returning soon. . . . Mayo did not score until making a free throw with 6.3 seconds left in the second quarter. . . . Mavs guard Darren Collison left the game in the first half and did not return because of an undisclosed illness. Wright appeared to reinjure his ankle with 3:39 left and did not return.
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