3-pointer: O.J. Mayo has made 'great strides'

DALLAS -- Skip past the 22 points O.J. Mayo scored to find the most impressive numbers in his line from Wednesday night’s win.

Six assists. Zero turnovers.

The Raptors wisely made Mayo, who had 62 points on 22-of-35 shooting in the previous two games, their top defensive priority. Mayo made them pay by consistently making smart passes, including several sweet feeds that teammates didn’t finish and a handful of hockey assists.

“He’s made great strides as a playmaker,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “His recognition is improving all the time, he’s making aggressive plays under control and his vision is getting better by the game. That’s a big plus for both us and him because he’s getting other guys involved.

“He’s not only delivering the ball, but he’s delivering it on time and on target where guys can do something strong with it.”

With Mayo rolling again, although not as ridiculously hot as he was against the Bobcats and Trail Blazers, Dwane Casey’s Raptors repeatedly threw traps at him. Carlisle, who said he’d “definitely” try trapping Mayo as an opposing coach, pointed out that committing two defenders 25 feet from the hoop can create a tremendous advantage for the offense if the guard executes correctly.

Mayo figures it comes down to simple math: If there are two men on him, at least one of his teammates is open.

“You’ve got to understand when you have a little bit of the scoring load, you still have to play great team basketball and make plays for others,” Mayo said. “That’s part of the responsibility for getting the opportunity to be aggressive out there.”

A few more notes from the Mavs’ third consecutive win:

1. Sarge reports for duty: Bernard “Sarge” James, the Mavs’ rookie center/Air Force veteran, impressed in his most extended duty of the season.

With Elton Brand out, James played 18 energetic minutes off the bench. He scored six points and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.

“Sarge came in and did a great job for us,” Chris Kaman said. “That was a big lift.”

2. Air Canada returns to sender: A long, long time ago, Vince Carter was called “Air Canada.” He was a freakishly athletic shooting guard who played for the Raptors at the time.

These days, that description fits DeMar DeRozan. Yet the 35-year-old Carter stuffed DeRozan on a crunch-time fadeaway.

At Carter’s age, it had to feel good ...

“That I can still get there?,” Carter said with a smile after his 17-point night. “I just guessed correctly. I think if he would have gone left, he would have got me.”

3. Wright goes strong: Brandan Wright wanted to prove he could be more than a niche player and put in the work this summer. He trained with a Tennessee Titans strength coach, bulking up 12 pounds to 230.

That work has paid off early in the season, when Wright has taken advantage of opportunity due to the Mavs’ temporary frontcourt depth issues, averaging 12.2 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.8 rebounds per game and shooting 73 percent from the floor.

“I think I can get out there and contribute every night, no matter what the team or matchup is,” said Wright, who had 12 points, seven rebounds and two blocks against Toronto.