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Mavericks-Grizzlies Preview

AP - Sports

O.J. Mayo had an up-and-down four-season tenure with the Memphis Grizzlies as his offensive numbers dipped over the final two.

Though he's seemed rejuvenated as the leading scorer for the Dallas Mavericks, former teammate Tony Allen seems prepared for the challenge of slowing him down.

Mayo makes his return to Memphis looking to help Dallas avoid a fifth loss in six games Friday night against the Grizzlies, winners of three straight.

After averaging only 11.9 points and shooting 40.7 percent over the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons and coming exclusively off the bench in his last with Memphis, Mayo signed a two-year contract with the Mavericks in July.

He's been Dallas' top scoring option with Dirk Nowitzki recovering from knee surgery averaging 20.2 points - including a career high-tying 40 in a win over Houston on Dec. 8 - while starting all 26 games.

Mayo, though, is coming off one of his worst performances for the struggling Mavericks (12-14), going 3 for 14 from the field and finishing with eight points in Thursday's 110-95 loss to Miami.

Dallas, which shot just 38.5 percent and played the first of at least three games without Derek Fisher, has lost four of five and ranks 27th giving up 101.8 points per game.

"They were making tough shots when we weren't, then we had more poor breakdowns as the game went on," coach Rick Carlisle said. "It was very disappointing how we played, but we'll have to forget it quickly because we have another tough one (in Memphis)."

Though Mayo is leading the league hitting 50.0 percent from 3-point range and is having a breakout season so far, his former team is enjoying much more success.

The Grizzlies (17-6) will be seeking a fourth consecutive win after holding Milwaukee to a season low for points in a 90-80 win Wednesday. Zach Randolph recorded his NBA-leading 19th double-double with 15 points and 17 rebounds, while Marc Gasol added 12 and 12.

Allen shot only 3 for 11 and scored eight points, but his season-high four steals highlighted a solid defensive effort as he helped hold Bucks high-scoring guard Monta Ellis to 1-of-14 shooting.

Memphis ranks first in the league allowing 89.5 points per game.

''That's where we lay our hat at is on the defensive end,'' Allen said. ''Ever since I got here, that's been our motto, holding it down on the defensive end, playing in and out basketball. Whenever we do that, I think we are more effective.''

Mike Conley scored 11 points and handed out six assists Wednesday and said Allen has been a part of the Grizzlies' stingy defense.

''That's a game-changer to have a guy who can do that,'' Conley said. ''To take a guy (like Ellis), who is so good, out of game offensively is unbelievable. As long he can do that, he is able to be a game-changer for us.''

Memphis has won four of the last five meetings with Dallas, including a 94-89 victory April 7 despite Mayo going 1 for 8 from the field. Rudy Gay led the Grizzlies with 25 points in that contest.

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