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.
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"We played defense 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] 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 1½ 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."
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 postseason. 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 percent, 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 percent 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 Favors.
But a 3 by Mayo from the right wing with 46 seconds left gave Memphis the buffer necessary.
|O.J. Mayo (20 points) and the Grizzlies hurt the Jazz's playoff chances with a fourth-quarter rally. (AP)|
|Memphis (35-24) «||28||22||20||33||103|
|UTA:D. Harris 20 Pts
UTA:D. Favors 14 Reb
UTA:D. Harris 6 Ast
|MEM:R. Gay 26 Pts
MEM:R. Gay 12 Reb
MEM:M. Conley 6 Ast
|Players of the Game|
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|P. Millsap, PF||38||8-15||0-2||7||1||6||17|
|A. Jefferson, C||37||10-17||0-0||8||4||4||20|
|G. Hayward, SF||37||4-10||7-7||4||5||1||17|
|D. Harris, PG||36||7-16||4-6||1||6||2||20|
|D. Carroll, SF||22||3-6||0-0||2||0||3||6|
|D. Favors, PF||28||4-10||2-2||14||0||1||10|
|A. Burks, PG||13||2-4||0-0||2||0||2||4|
|J. Tinsley, PG||12||1-3||0-0||1||3||1||2|
|E. Kanter, C||11||1-1||0-0||0||0||3||2|
|B. Ahearn, PG||5||0-1||0-0||2||1||0||0|
|R. Bell, SG||Did Not Play|
|E. Watson, PG||Did Not Play|
|J. Howard, SF||Did Not Play|
|C. Miles, SF||Did Not Play|
|J. Evans, SF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|R. Gay, SF||40||8-16||9-10||12||1||1||26|
|M. Gasol, C||39||6-10||5-8||9||4||2||17|
|M. Conley, PG||36||6-13||4-4||1||6||1||17|
|T. Allen, SG||24||2-6||2-2||3||2||1||6|
|M. Speights, PF||18||2-5||0-0||3||1||2||4|
|Z. Randolph, PF||30||3-6||1-2||6||2||3||7|
|O. Mayo, SG||24||5-11||6-6||0||0||1||20|
|G. Arenas, PG||12||2-3||0-0||0||2||1||5|
|D. Cunningham, SF||7||0-0||0-0||3||0||1||0|
|Q. Pondexter, SF||7||0-0||1-2||0||0||0||1|
|H. Haddadi, C||3||0-0||0-0||1||0||0||0|
|D. Arthur, PF||Did Not Play|
|J. Selby, PG||Did Not Play|
|J. Pargo, PG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|