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Mayo dominates the 4th quarter to rally Grizzlies past Jazz

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Associated Press
4/14/2012 11:10:43 PM
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- With the Memphis Grizzlies struggling to find their offensive rhythm, O.J. Mayo stepped up for a fourth-quarter burst.

Mayo scored 17 of his 20 points in the final period Saturday night to rally the Grizzlies to a 103-98 victory over the Utah Jazz, keeping Memphis' hold on fifth place in the Western Conference.

"I just found a little rhythm and got some open shots and knocked them down," said Mayo, who hit three of his four shots from outside the arc in the period. "Sometimes you make them, sometimes you miss them. (Against Utah), I made them.

"Coach (Lionel Hollins) diagrammed some good plays once he saw that I got it rolling a little bit. Guys set good screens to open me up, and passes were on time in order to make the shots."

The Jazz held a six-point lead early in the final period, but Mayo scored 10 straight points for Memphis to erase the advantage. His 3-pointer with 46 seconds left gave the Grizzlies enough of an advantage to win for the fifth time in six games overall and seventh straight at home.

"We played defence well early in the fourth, and O.J. stepped up and made some big shots for us early and got us going for the rest of the fourth quarter," said Memphis guard Mike Conley, who had 17 points and six assists.

Rudy Gay led Memphis with 18 of his 26 points in the second half and also had 12 rebounds, while Marc Gasol added 17 points.

"(Rudy) is really maturing and embracing his ability," Hollins said. "I think that is the best way to put it. He has the ability to do a lot of things."

With the victory, Memphis remained 1 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Clippers for fourth place and homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Clippers beat the Golden State Warriors 112-104 earlier Saturday.

"It's that time of year where everybody is trying to fight for something or working towards next season," Gasol said. "We're trying to fight for something.

"If you look at the standings, you stay motivated."

Al Jefferson and Devin Harris scored 20 points apiece for Utah. Paul Millsap and Gordon Hayward had 17 points each and Derrick Favours added 10 points and 14 rebounds.

Utah lost its second straight and further damaged its playoff chances. The Jazz dropped two games behind Houston and Denver, who are tied for the final two spots.

"We know it's going to take a lot of hard work at first, then it is going to take focus," Millsap said of the playoff chase. "We have to have focus, and we have to stick to what we do for 48 minutes. In the past, we haven't been doing that, and it's costing us right now."

Even before the game, Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said his team just needed to try and string together wins down the stretch to see if they could reach the post-season. With the loss, Corbin still sounded optimistic with a little hedging to the future.

"We aren't out of it by any stretch of the imagination," the Utah coach said. "Plus, we want to continue to grow as a team. These experiences this time of year are invaluable to us. We are getting in game situations and pressure situations to grow and learn how to play."

Both teams ended the night shooting about 48 per cent, slowing down after halftime. The Jazz finished with 14 turnovers, while Memphis had 12.

Utah led 51-50 lead at the break after a first half that featured 12 ties and seven lead changes.

Jefferson scored 14 and Harris had 13 points in the first half, while Conley had 11 for Memphis, and Gasol 10 on 5-for-6 shooting.

Memphis led 66-63 near the midway point of the third. However, Utah answered with nine consecutive points to take the lead.

When Millsap connected on a 3 as the quarter ended, the Jazz had a 76-70 lead heading into the fourth. The shot gave Millsap nine points in the quarter as the Jazz hit 10 of their 19 shots in the period, maintaining a 53 per cent shooting pace.

"We have shown at times (that) we execute very well, and we have shown in some of these tough games where we haven't," Harris said. "We learn from it, and we can't panic."

Mayo got untracked early in the fourth with the 10 straight Memphis points, including back-to-back 3s.

The game stayed close the rest of the way, and Utah pulled to 95-94 with 1:04 left on two free throws from Favours.

But a 3 by Mayo from the right wing with 46 seconds left gave Memphis the buffer necessary.

NOTES: Asked what he thought about talk regarding the Jazz nickname going back to New Orleans since new owner Tom Benson wants a moniker more suited to the Crescent City, Corbin quickly said with a chuckle: "He can't have it back. ... Utah Jazz. That's what I know. I saw a New Orleans shirt the other night that had 'Jazz' on the bottom. I wanted to put a piece of tape over it and put 'Hornets' on that thing. We can't give up our name." ... Memphis G Tony Allen returned to the lineup after missing five games with a facial laceration suffered April 4 at Dallas. ... Blake Ahearn, signed to a 10-day contract by the Jazz on April 10, got his first action since being called up from the Reno Bighorns. He played 5 minutes and missed his one shot from 3-point range. . The seven-game home winning streak for the Grizzlies is a season-high. . Mayo's 17 fourth-quarter points were a season-best in a period for a Memphis player.

O.J. Mayo (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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