How Mayo, CDR & Mavs Fare In 'Reunion Games'
The Dallas Mavericks are an assemblage of other teams' parts -- not an Island of Misfit Toys, exactly, but rather, a collection of veterans who are new to Dallas.
That group has been led in performance by O.J. Mayo, who is emerging as a standout during this Dirk-less 12-15 start to the season.
Entering the Friday game at Memphis, the story of the night was easily the first return of Mayo to the only other team he has been able to call his own, where he spent his first four seasons.
So, how would Mayo respond?
The Grizzlies knew Dallas would struggle to score if Mayo couldn't. The weapon to sic on OJ? All-Defensive 2-guard Tony Allen, hoping to continue his streak of shut-down defense against the league's top scoring threats.
"I treated him like he's a regular opponent, as if he was Kobe or LeBron or what have you," Allen said after the Mavs' 92-82 loss. "This wasn't about me and O.J. It was about the Grizzlies beating the Mavericks. All five guys are locked in.''
It was also about Mayo not being locked in. Or, better, about a defense focusing on him as a go-to guy, something that failed the Mavs in back-to-back losses to Miami and Memphis, games in which Juice shot 6-of-25.
Coming off his worst shooting night of the season against the Heat (3-of-14, 21.4 percent), Mayo would on Friday miss his first five field-goal attempts and not find his first point until 6.3 seconds in the first half, when he split a pair of free throws.
Mayo's final numbers: 10 points, 3-of-11 field goals, 1-of-4 3-pointers, four assists, three rebounds, one steal, one block … and five turnovers.
It's never a good sign when you have more turnovers than either made-field goals or assists.
"They know my tendencies," Mayo said. "It was pretty much 'O.J. was not going to get anything.'''
Well, that's part of the explanation, too. But ...
Dirk Nowitzki, Roddy Beaubois and Dominique Jones are the only vets on the current roster to have spent their entire careers as Mavs.
In other words, this is a roster full of guys that have lived through the emotions of facing their previous teams. How did Mayo stack up to some of his teammates in this category in their most recent attempts?
Is is all simply a matter of "knowing a former teammate's tendencies''? It is not.
Let's look back on how the other Mavs players have fared on their "homecoming games'' -- when new Mavs played their old teams for the first time. (To clarify, what you see below is their first game against their most recent former team … in the case of Chris Kaman and Darren Collison, this has not yet occurred as a Maverick, meaning it took place with another team ... Kaman with the Hornets facing the Clippers, Collison with Indiana facing the Hornets.)
*Elton Brand as a Mav vs. the 76ers: 17 points, 5-of-10 field goals, 8 rebounds, 0 turnovers.
*Vince Carter as a Mav vs. the Suns: 7 points, 3-of-10 field goals, 0-2 3-pointers, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 0 turnovers.
*Darren Collison as a Pacer vs. the Hornets: 18 points, 8-of-11 field goals, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, two steals, four turnovers.
*Chris Kaman as a Hornet vs. the Clippers: 20 points, 9-of-13 field goals, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks, 7 turnovers.
*Shawn Marion as a Mav vs. the Raptors: 18 points, 9-of-11 field goals, 8 rebounds, 1 assists, 1 steal, 0 turnovers.
As you can see, it's more than just "knowing tendencies.''
Oh, and what about the new guy, Chris Douglas-Roberts, brought up from junior varsity in Frisco to replace the oddly-departing Fisher just in time for Mavs at San Antonio on Sunday?
*CDR, the former Net, starred in the Bucks' 115-92 win against his old team in 2011 by shooting 9-of-14 for 24 points -- more than three times his career average of 7.7 points.
Mayo dipped the most of this group in scoring, putting up 10.2 points less with a field-goal percentage 20.8 percentage points lower than his season averages (averages coming into the game for Mayo), and only Kaman showed a greater increase in turnovers, giving away 4.3 more than he averaged that season (Mayo had 2.2 turnovers above his average).
Mayo is also the only player of this group to grab fewer rebounds than their season average, a number that often, though not always, is capable of echoing a raise in desire, of motivation, regardless of emotion or nerves … shots may not fall, but added hustle can still earn a rebound or two.
Interestingly enough, Mayo is also the only player who attempted fewer shots in his first matchup against his former team than he averaged for that season.
A triumphant return to Memphis, this was not. It wasn't the result of "familiarity,'' not really. It's the result of Mayo being defensed as if he's Dallas' version of "Kobe or LeBron,'' and it was the case Friday against Wade and Saturday against Allen.