3-pointer: Mike James makes case for backup PG minutes

DALLAS – Mike James has moved above Rodrigue Beaubois on the Mavericks’ backup point guard depth chart again.

For the moment, at least.

James could make it an easy decision for Rick Carlisle if he keeps playing like he did in Wednesday night’s win over the Orlando Magic. The 37-year-old D-League call-up had by far his best statistical line as a Maverick, scoring 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting and dishing out four assists with no turnovers in 17 minutes.

Beaubois, on the other hand, played 1:24 of stat-free garbage time.

But James, who earned a guaranteed deal for the rest of the season after surviving two 10-day auditions, knows he can go right back to the end of the bench if he doesn’t perform Friday night in New Orleans.

“I’ve just got to be ready, however it’s going to happen,” James said. “I understand that if you’re not playing well, then you have to find somebody else. It’s not about a friendship. It’s about winning games.

“If I don’t play, it’s because of me not playing well, and I understand that. He’s got to put somebody in that’s going to play with energy and playing the game the right way. I’ve just got to continue to stay locked in, regardless of what happens.”

James’ performances often haven’t been pretty, to put it politely. After his hot shooting night, his field goal percentage soared to 31.1.

But the Mavs tend to outscore the opponent when James is on the floor. His plus-minus (+47) is second best on the team behind Vince Carter.

“I like him,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He does things hard.”

A few more notes from the Mavs’ win over the Magic:

1. Wright on: Third-string big man Brandan Wright made a major impact while the Mavs pulled away in the fourth quarter. He scored all eight of his points and had five of his seven rebounds in the fourth.

“His first-half ride was a little bumpy,” Carlisle said. “We felt like giving Brandan another shot was the right thing thing to do, and he responded.”

2. Brand’s perspective: Elton Brand had one of his best scoring nights of the season, putting up 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting to match his second-highest point total as a Mav.

But Brand isn’t focused on his individual numbers. His sole concern is on continuing to improve the Mavs’ 24-29 record, which looks a lot better after they won four of five games during this homestand.

“We have no room to enjoy any of our wins right now,” Brand said. “We have to focus on the next game. That’s a hole we dug ourselves and we have to fight our way out.”

3. Dirk’s dud: Dirk Nowitzki knocked down three of his first four shots … and then had only one bucket the rest of the game. He finished with 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting.

But Nowitzki, who had a couple of efficient performances entering the All-Star break, continued to move well. He equaled his season high with nine rebounds.