Part of becoming a playoff-contending team is getting players to accept their roles.
And step one for the Grizzlies to put themselves in position to make the playoffs -- they have a three-game lead over the Rockets for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot after Memphis' win over the Warriors on Wednesday -- was finding a scorer off the bench.
That happened back in the first couple of months of the year when Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins moved starting shooting guard O.J. Mayo to the bench. The move was the first challenge in an extremely difficult season for Mayo, who almost traded to Indiana after he had to sit out 10 games due to an NBA suspension for a positive drug test for a banned substance. He also got on a fight on the team plane with teammate Tony Allen over a card game.
But Mayo came through all that, and in the last three weeks, he has gotten back his offensive rhythm. In his last three of five games, he has scored in double-figures, hitting his last 10-of-16 three-pointers.
"Coach (Hollins) had individual meetings with all of us over a week ago and he told me it looked like I was out there thinking too much," Mayo said. "I just needed to go out there and do what they needed me to do, which is score."
Hollins said he gave Mayo a big green light.
"We talked," Hollins said, and I told him, 'Shoot the ball when you're open. That's what you do. I've never taken you out when you miss shots, so don't think that you can't take a shot because you might miss it. You can't make them if you don't shoot them.' "
Mayo has worked overtime on his shot the last few weeks and it's showing. If he catches the ball and has a good look, he takes the shot without flinching, a sure, positive stroke.
His teammates are happy that Mayo has walked through the fire of a tough, tough year, and is a key pushing his team toward the playoffs.
When a person has that much fire in him, with his talent and the way he shoots, it's a great attribute to our team.
"For him to get through everything shows mental toughness," Allen said.
GRIZZLIES 110, WARRIORS 91: The type of win that the Grizzlies (42-33) earned on Wednesday night is the type Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins likes to call a "professional victory." It's when you go out and take care of business against a team that you're supposed to beat. Memphis did that against the Warriors, but it took a while. The Grizzlies trailed by five points at the half, but guard Tony Allen's defense jump-started the Grizzlies to a comfortable victory. Memphis outscored the Warriors 62-38 in the second half, limiting Golden State to 40 percent field goal shooting. Allen finished with 21 points, eight rebounds and three steals, while power forward Zach Randolph added 20 points, 13 rebounds and six assists.
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