DALLAS -- On a night when most of the attention focused on what was happening off the floor -- with Dirk Nowitzki's knee swelling again and Delonte West being suspended for conduct detrimental to the team -- the remodeled Mavs did exhibit some promise on the court.
The most encouraging thing about the Mavs’ preseason rout of the Rockets was probably O.J. Mayo’s offensive performance.
Mayo lit it up for 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting in 23 minutes, an especially welcome sight after his tough trip to Europe, which included him opening up a nasty cut on his shooting hand when he stumbled on stairs in Barcelona. Mayo had only nine points on 2-of-13 shooting in the two games against Alba Berlin and FC Barcelona Regal.
Mayo came to Dallas to try to revive a career that fizzled the last two seasons, when the former third overall pick was demoted to sixth man in Memphis. The Mavs need the shooting guard to fill Jason Terry’s shoes as Nowitzki’s scoring sidekick -- and that might need even more from Mayo if Nowitzki needs to get his swollen knee scoped.
“It’s a much different role than my last two years,” Mayo said. “It’s kind of a green light, but it’s a responsible green light. Still make great plays, hit the open guy, but remain aggressive.”
Mayo displayed the mix of perimeter shooting and penetrating the Mavs need from him against the Rockets. He had a dunk in transition, a couple of driving layups, made a mid-range jumper and knocked down half of his six 3-point attempts.
And Mayo dished out four assists, including a couple during the Mavs’ 20-0 run, when he provided half of the points.
“Offensively, he played the kind of game that we want him to play -- aggressive, stepping into open shots, attacking when it was there,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said.
It wasn’t all sunshine and daffodils for Mayo. Carlisle pointed out that he has work to do on the defensive end after Rockets shooting guard Kevin Martin scored 23 points on 8-of-15 shooting.
“It’s Kevin Martin, man,” Mayo said. “He’s been pretty tough for most of my career, the first guy to give me 40 points in this league.”
The Mavs might need Mayo to give them 40 a few times this season. Getting halfway there in a preseason game against the Rockets was a pretty good start.