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Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Rick Carlisle's nitpicking paying off for O.J. Mayo

By Tim MacMahon

DALLAS -- It could be considered a major sign of progress that O.J. Mayo, who arrived in Dallas with a reputation for being a one-dimensional player, could be so productive while shooting so poorly.

Mayo missed 11 of 14 shots from the floor Wednesday night, but he still stuffed the box score with 18 points, eight assists, six rebounds, two steals and one blocked shot in the Mavs’ 105-100 win over the Houston Rockets.

“It’ll be a bigger sign when I don’t have to scream at him at halftime about it,” coach Rick Carlisle said.

Mayo confirmed he got cussed out in front of his teammates at halftime, when Carlisle ranted about questionable shot selection. It isn’t the first time that Carlisle has unleashed an R-rated rip job on Mayo. And it won’t be the last.

Heck, Mayo expects to get another one during Thursday’s film session.

“At the time, when it’s just you and him and sometimes in front of the team, it feels like a nitpick session. You know what I mean?” Mayo said. “Because it’s like everything I do is not good. But when I look at the bright side of it, everything he does is to help me become a better player and an all-around player. I definitely feel like he believes in me, that I can do a lot more than sometimes I show.

“As a player and a competitor, you appreciate that. You enjoy the drive.”

Carlisle isn’t about to apologize for coaching Mayo hard. He’s going to keep it coming.

“I’m sorry, it’s beneath me to watch a guy continue to veer off from the path that’s best for him and our team,” Carlisle said, stressing that he’s going to keep emphasizing that Mayo needs to be an all-around player, not just a scorer.

With that said, Mayo has made major progress in facets of the game other than scoring during his brief tenure in Dallas, where he signed despite more lucrative offers elsewhere in large part because he believed Carlisle could help him tap into his potential.

Mayo has had outings with at least 15 points, eight assists and six rebounds twice during his five-year career. Those have come in the Mavs’ last two games.

During the Mavs’ four-game winning streak, Mayo has matched his season average of 18.3 points. But his rebounds (6.5) and assists (6.5) are way up. His turnovers have been cut down drastically recently, with him coughing the ball up only eight times in a seven-game span since a six-turnover night in a loss at Miami. And Carlisle has actually complimented Mayo’s defense a few times lately.

“I guess it’s working,” Mayo said. “He’s getting me better and that’s what it’s all about.”