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Mayo's Summer League Debut

By Maurice Brooks

The critics will look at the box score from O.J. Mayo's Vegas Summer League debut and see that he turned the ball over eight times.

They will point out that he only scored 15 points against watered-down competition.

They will say that he wasn't even the best Memphis rookie on the floor -- that honor goes to Darrell Arthur (18 points on 9-for-12 shooting).

And they will be right.

But the numbers on a piece of paper or a computer screen don't do Mayo's game justice.

They don't show how comfortable he was playing both the role of primary playmaker and No. 1 scoring option.

They don't show how hard he worked on the defensive end of the court.

They don't show how he learned from his mistakes and got better as the game went on.

The No. 3 pick in the draft made three steals, grabbed three rebounds, handed out five assists and shot 50 percent from the floor in the Grizzlies' 13-point win over the Hornets on Friday.

His coach was impressed.

"I'm very pleased with how he played defensively," Marc Iavaroni said. "He is very driven to be a great player. In the second half, he just slowed down a little bit and it's good to see growth from half to half."

Actually, it was more like quarter to quarter. After scoring just two points in the first quarter, he erupted for 10 in the second, including a crowd-pleasing stuff over Hilton Armstrong.

"I just wanted to play hard and win," said Mayo after the game. "I always feel I can do better. I put forth a lot of effort on defense."

What did catch Mayo off guard was the large crowd.

"I was nervous," said Mayo, who was heckled by a group of fans throughout the game. "I didn't expect there to be so many people at a summer league game."

Mayo worked well with fellow guards Javaris Crittenton and Mike Conley.

"In practice, we all work hard," Mayo said. "There is a lot of hustling and diving on the floor. We're trying to make each other better."

So far, so good.