Tony Allen is solidifying his reputation one of the NBA's premier perimeter defenders.
Former teammate O.J. Mayo already knew that, but got a firsthand look at what Allen can do to a team's leading scorer in the Memphis Grizzlies' 92-82 victory over Dallas on Friday night.
Mayo, who entered the game averaging 20.2 points, managed only a free throw in the first half, ended the night shooting 3 of 11 from the field and scored 10 points. Wednesday night, Allen held Milwaukee scoring leader Monta Ellis to a single field goal on 14 attempts.
"I treat it as a regular opponent as if he was a Kobe or a LeBron or what have you," Allen said about mindset against Mayo. "I just treated it regular and studied him. ... I sat here quiet. Didn't really talk to my teammates before the game. I was just focused at doing the task at hand because he'd been on fire."
Rudy Gay scored 26 points, and Zach Randolph had 17 points and 13 rebounds to help the Grizzlies win their fourth straight game. Marc Gasol added 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Allen finished with 10 points.
Mike Conley had 11 assists to become the franchise leader with 2,079. He surpassed Jason Williams, who had 2,069, with 7:54 left in the first quarter on an alley-oop pass to Gay.
Shawn Marion and Vince Carter led the Mavericks with 14 points apiece, and Marion also had 11 rebounds. Dominique Jones had 13 points and seven assists, and Brandan Wright added 12 points.
Mayo, who played his first four years for the Grizzlies before signing with Dallas in the offseason, was the focus of the Grizzlies defensive approach. Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said the game plan was to make sure Allen had Mayo throughout. Hollins said he didn't want Mayo to get on track to help carry the Mavericks, and to accomplish that, Allen went out every time Mayo rested, and returned with the Mavericks leading scorer. The result was Allen playing a season-high 38 minutes.
"I told Tony: 'You're going to guard him whenever he is in the game,'" Hollins recounted. "O.J. is a big catalyst of that team. He's their leading scorer. They go around him to get in the flow, which allows the other guys to get in the flow. .They had some other people score, but it wasn't the same as when he is playing."
Dallas never led, and Memphis built a 17-point advantage in the third quarter.
The Mavericks suffered through 24 turnovers leading to 29 Memphis points, and the Grizzlies' 17 offensive rebounds contributed to a 22-9 advantage in second-chance points. Part of that could have been the result of Dallas playing the second night of a back-to-back after losing to Miami on Thursday, and the injuries that the Mavericks are suffering.
"I was very pleased," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said about his team's play. "We were undermanned, coming off of a late night back-to-back. The guys really hung in and 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."
Memphis, which led by a dozen in the first half, dealt with a Dallas rally that cut the Grizzlies' advantage to 40-39 at intermission. Gay had 10 for Memphis, while Carter had nine points for Dallas.
Mayo missed all four of his shots in the half as Allen clamped on the defense. Mayo managed only a free throw in the closing seconds of the half. He said it wasn't just Allen, but the way the Grizzlies were helping on defense, concentrating on him.
"It was not intimidating," Mayo said of the defense and returning to Memphis. "It was just a little different obviously. They know my tendencies. It was pretty much O.J. was not getting anything, and (we) had to get other guys to make some plays."
Neither team shot particularly well in the first half — Dallas connecting on 34 percent, while Memphis was shooting at a 38 percent clip. Memphis missed all five of its shots from beyond the arc, and Dallas was stymied by 13 turnovers, while the Grizzlies had eight miscues.
Both teams would end the night shooting just better than 40 percent.
Mayo eventually hit his first field goal with 4:26 left in the third. Dallas had tied it at 49 with just over 9 minutes left in the third, but Memphis responded with 14 straight points, grabbing the first double-digit lead of the game.
The lead eventually would reach 17 and Memphis carried a 69-57 advantage into the fourth.
Dallas pushed its offense, again with the reserves helping bring the energy to open the final frame. It translated to a 14-2 run spanning the third and fourth periods as the Mavericks went with a smaller lineup in hope of offsetting the Grizzlies inside presence.
"We just couldn't get over the hump," Marion said. "We were out there scratching and clawing, climbing he hill, but we couldn't get over. Sometimes it happens like that."
The Mavericks kept pushing their offense spreading out the scoring to pull to 76-73 near the midway point of the fourth.
Gay and Randolph converted a pair of 3-point plays to stretch the lead back to 82-73. Then a dunk by Gay took the lead to double digits.
The Mavericks would pull within five points, but could get no closer the rest of the way, losing their fifth in the last six.
As for his defensive effort, Allen said with the rest of the Grizzlies starters, it's his niche in the Memphis lineup.
"You've got to look at it like this: sitting next to Rudy Gay, Mike Conley, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, they're going to fill up the scoring," Allen said. "I've just got to be that glue guy who (does) the intangibles. Who do the things that are not expected from those guys. That's my role, and I want to fulfill it to the best of the ability I can."
NOTES: Mayo was not the only returning former Grizzly returning to Memphis. Like Mayo, Mavs F Dahntay Jones played his first four years in the league for the Grizzlies. ... Brandan Wright, who missed Thursday's game against Miami with a sprained right ankle, returned to action against Memphis. Elton Brand missed his third straight game with a right groin strain for Dallas. ... Dallas' Darren Collison left the game with an "illness" according the injury report. He didn't return.