O.J. Mayo probably didn't realize how important he would be to the Dallas Mavericks when he signed with them in the offseason.
With scorer Dirk Nowitzki still recovering from knee surgery and defensive stalwart Shawn Marion battling a sprained knee, Mayo leads the team with 21.8 ppg and will keep firing away Friday on the road against the Indiana Pacers.
Mayo helped the Mavericks end a season-high three-game losing streak by scoring a game-best 25 points in Wednesday's 107-101 victory over the lowly Washington Wizards. Mayo made 9-of-15 shots and sank three of his six 3-point attempts for Dallas, which buried 50 percent from the floor and received 25 points from Chris Kaman.
Mavs rookie Jae Crowder added 12 points off the bench in the victory. Elton Brand posted his first double-double of the season with 11 points and a game- high 12 rebounds.
"It was good to get back in the win column after the past couple of games we had," said Crowder. "We work hard here all the time and it showed with the effort we had tonight."
The Wizards made it interesting against a Dallas team that scored 40 points in the second quarter and led by as many as 22. The Mavericks improved to 4-1 at home, outrebounded the Wizards by a 40-34 margin and had 46-28 advantage in the paint.
Meanwhile, Mayo, who was a key reserve for the Memphis Grizzlies, is averaging 24.6 ppg in his last seven contests thanks to 20 or more points in six of those games. Mayo scored 20-plus points in five straight games from Nov. 3-10.
Dallas is 4-0 when it reaches the 100-point mark this season and went 20-3 when doing so a season ago. The team will visit Cleveland on Saturday and is fourth in the NBA in scoring with 102.4 ppg.
Indiana has struggled to a 3-6 record this season and possesses just one win in the previous six games.
The Pacers are coming off their second loss in a row, a 99-85 road defeat at the hands of the Central Division-rival Milwaukee Bucks. Tyler Hansbrough had 17 points and five rebounds, while Gerald Green scored 13 points and added six rebounds for the Pacers, who have been toiling without starting forward Danny Granger because of a sore left knee.
Indiana made it interesting in the fourth quarter with 32-17 scoring advantage.
"We were trying to get it under control and did some different things there at the end," said Indiana head coach Frank Vogel. "It wasn't enough to win the game, but I'm happy with the fight the guys showed there at the end."
David West was held to seven points and pulled down nine rebounds, and is listed as day-to-day because of a sprained right ankle. Indiana lost its fifth straight on the road after a season-opening win at Toronto.
The Pacers are last in the NBA in scoring with 87.8 ppg and haven't reached the 90-point mark in each of the past three games. They will begin a two-game road trip Sunday against New York and Washington.
Indiana won the only meeting with Dallas last season, a 98-87 triumph in the Lone Star State. Dallas is 10-3 in the last 13 meetings between the teams, but has dropped 13 of the previous 19 as the guest in this series.