for this game

Mayo carries Grizzlies over Raptors

Feb 8, 2009 - 4:53 AM MEMPHIS, Tennessee (Ticker) -- After a miserable shooting night for everyone, O.J. Mayo found his shot just in time to save the Memphis Grizzlies.

The rookie guard endured a rough showing before catching fire late in the fourth quarter, scoring 12 of his 16 points in the final frame to lift his club to a 78-70 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Saturday night.

Mayo provided practically all of the offense for Memphis in the fourth, including a clutch 3-pointer that all but sealed the victory. After Jason Kapono's three pulled the Raptors to within three at 73-70, Mayo answered him on the other end, pulling up from the right corner with a hand in his face and burying it from long range to extend the lead to six.

"He has made big shots," Memphis head coach Lionel Hollins said. "Big-time players, no matter what kind of game they have, seem to rise to the occasion. He rose to the occasion in the last few minutes of that game."

Andrea Bargnani misfired on the other end for Toronto and Mayo, appropriately, grabbed the final rebound to finish things off.

In a messy game in which the teams combined to shoot just 34 percent from the floor, the Grizzlies looked completely deflated in the fourth quarter, going scoreless over the first 3:43 of the period as the Raptors stormed ahead. Even when they finally got on the scoreboard, it came courtesy of a technical foul for an illegal defense.

"It was tough. Both teams really couldn't knock down a shot," Grizzlies forward Hakim Warrick said. "These are games that you have to win. You have to dig down deep and you have to execute."

But when Mayo went on the attack, things finally turned around. He put Memphis back on top with a driving layup with seven minutes remaining, then added a short jumper, drew contact and completed the three-point play to extend the advantage to four.

"I had to hit a shot from somewhere," Mayo said. "I'd missed like my last nine or 10 shots. My legs have been bothering me a little bit lately, and all my shots were on target, but they were just real short."

One possession later, he buried a 3-pointer, and suddenly the Grizzlies were in control. The 21-year-old combo guard made sure to get his teammates in on the action, finding fellow rookie Marc Gasol inside for a layup to make it a 71-62 ballgame.

After Kapono gave the Raptors new life with 48 seconds remaining, Mayo displayed veteran savvy on the other end, working the shot clock down to the final seconds before firing away - and connecting - to help Memphis avoid another ugly defeat in a season full of them. Making matters more difficult was the absence of the team's second-leading scorer, Rudy Gay, who sat out with a hip flexor.

"We learned a lot tonight. It was a different experience for us, playing against a good team like Toronto and being a couple men down," Memphis point guard Mike Conley said. "I thought we really came together hard. All 10 guys that were involved really played well defensively. That was our biggest key tonight, was to get a lot of stops."

The Raptors, on the other hand, had to face the other side of that equation. They have dropped five in a row and shot an embarrassing 29.5 percent (23-of-78), including 5-of-23 from the arc.

"We couldn't find one guy even at halftime that could get on a roll or make shots. It was just one of those nights," Toronto interim coach Jay Triano said. "We became contagious and everyone kept missing. I don't think we took a lot of really bad shots. We are ninth in the NBA in field-goal percentage and we came out and only shot 29 percent."

Jose Calderon led the way with 18 points as Toronto struggled in the absence of All-Star forward Chris Bosh, who missed his second straight game with a sprained right knee.

"That's our player. We need Chris," Raptors forward Jamario Moon said. "He is leading the team in scoring and rebounding. We need him back. I can't wait for him to get back."