On Monday night, he used his ability to score to help the Grizzlies end a 12-game losing skid, matching his career high with 33 points in a 113-97 win over the Washington Wizards.
"We got the monkey off our back, definitely," Mayo said. "Twelve-game losing streak, I've never experienced anything like that before in my life."
Rudy Gay scored 23, and Marc Gasol added 22 points and 11 rebounds for Memphis, which ended the team's longest drought since dropping 13 in a row to start the 2002-03 season. The Grizzlies had not won since beating Dallas 102-82 Jan. 4.
Memphis' losing streak lasted long enough for the team to have three different coaches during the span. This was Lionel Hollins's fourth game after taking over for Johnny Davis, who was at the helm for two games after Marc Iavaroni was fired on Jan. 22.
"They haven't lost 12 in a row with me," Hollins said. "They know we're starting fresh, and they have something that's new and exciting and they're buying into it."
The Grizzlies broke the streak in high-flying fashion -- the 113 points was Memphis' highest scoring mark of the season. The Grizzlies also managed to match their lowest turnover mark of the season with eight.
Memphis led for much of the game, but did not pull away until a 19-2 run to finish the third quarter, with Gay scoring nine straight points as the Grizzlies ended the quarter with a 94-81 lead.
Memphis managed to build the lead to 16 points early in the fourth quarter, but then the Grizzlies' offense stalled momentarily. They didn't score for nearly four minutes as the Wizards crept back and cut the lead to 99-91 -- a run that Gay admitted caused some nervousness.
"But I think everyone here was ready to get off that streak," Gay said. "We were working hard, getting loose balls, doing whatever it takes to get this win."
"That was the worst effort I've seen us give since I've been here," said Wizards interim coach Ed Tapscott, who took over after Eddie Jordan was fired on Nov. 24. "There wasn't any hustle. There wasn't any life. That was just a very, very poor effort."
Memphis started three rookies, a second-year player and Gay, in his third season. Tapscott said before the game he hoped his veterans would be able to exploit the Grizzlies' youth, and he went so far as to script the first two plays of the game to make sure Jamison and Butler would each get the ball early. They both had 12 points at the end of the first quarter, accounting for all but five of the Wizards' points, but the strategy still left Washington down 32-29 after the first quarter.
The Grizzlies' youth kept pace with the Wizards, and then bettered them. Mayo also scored 12 points in the first quarter, and hardly slowed his scoring pace. It was Gay, however, who really lifted the Grizzlies with his late third-quarter binge.
"When the young guys are pretty good, it helps," Hollins said. "And O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay are pretty good."
Mayo reached the career-high mark with an uncontested dunk on the Grizzlies' last possession, when Memphis had an opportunity to run out the clock. Tapscott didn't take offense to the play, calling it "youthful exuberance."
Butler, however, thought differently.
"That's a sign of disrespect," he said. "It's one of those things. You've got to understand people are going to kick you when you're down."
For his part, Mayo said he wasn't even thinking about his point total.
"Just so happy to get a win," he said. "I'm sorry on the sportsmanship thing, I was just so happy to get a win and bring it home with a bang and finally have a positive feeling in the locker room at the end of the game."
The only down note for the Grizzlies was when guard Kyle Lowry left the court early in the second quarter after a collision with the Wizards' Dominic McGuire, hopping on his left foot out the tunnel to the locker room. Lowry sprained his right ankle and did not return.
"We don't know the extent he'll be out," Hollins said.
- Wizards G DeShawn Stevenson (back) did not play because of a flare-up. Stevenson missed 15 games before returning for Washington's past two contests. "We want to be cautious," Tapscott said.
- Memphis C/F Darko Milicic might play limited minutes Wednesday after missing 18 games with a broken right hand if he can practice with contact Tuesday, Hollins said. Milicic has been out since Dec. 26 and the Grizzlies are 2-16 without him.
- The attendance of 11,441 was the lowest at the Verizon Center this season.