3-pointer: Paul George picks apart Mavs

DALLAS – Remember how high folks around these parts were about Rodrigue Beaubois’ potential back in the summer of 2010?

That was right after his rookie season, when Rick Carlisle was heavily criticized for not giving the kid more minutes, especially after Beaubois went on a scoring flurry to give the Mavs a chance to steal Game 6 during the only significant playing time he received in Dallas’ one-and-done playoff run.

The Mavs’ front office had plenty of company in terms of being tantalized by Beaubois’ talent. Despite Mark Cuban’s declaration that Beaubois was essentially “untouchable,” Donnie Nelson’s cell phone rang often with offers for him.

One such offer occurred on draft night, as Nelson revealed after Cuban paid $3 million for the rights to select Dominique Jones with the 25th overall pick. A team dangled a lottery pick, Nelson said with a smile, but the Mavs weren’t interested due to their major plans for Beaubois.

Why is that relevant right now?

That team was the Indiana Pacers. They settled for selecting Paul George with the 10th overall pick.

Beaubois watched from the bench with his surgically repaired left hand in a cast while George dominated the Mavs on Thursday night. George lit up the Mavs for 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals to lead the Pacers to a lopsided win that bumped the Mavs to two games under .500.

“He’s right now approaching being a top-12 or -15 player in this league, which means he’s a top-12 or -15 player in the world,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “He’s that good.”

The oft-injured Beaubois, on the other hand, is approaching an uncertain future as a free agent this summer. He certainly never sniffed the star status envisioned for him after his flashes-of-brilliance rookie season, ending up as a fringe rotation player.

The 22-year-old George is one of the league’s most versatile wings. He’s a phenomenally athletic 6-foot-8, 210-pounder who does a little bit of everything, averaging 17.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.8 steals this season, earning his first All-Star bid.

In other words, George is exactly the type of young talent the Mavs would love to pair with Dirk Nowitzki. Of course, that’s what they thought Beaubois would be back during his untouchable days.

Having said that, Cuban claims he has no regrets whatsoever about not selling high on Beaubois.

“That’s like saying, why didn’t I sell this stock or that stock in 2006?” Cuban said recently. “Why didn’t I short all the mortgages and banks in 2007? I might be rich. No, I don’t look back on things like that. Ever.”

It was hard not to while watching George go off Thursday night.

A few more notes from the blowout that will keep the Mavs’ beards growing:

1. Lost opportunity: This loss stung even a little more when the Mavs learned that the Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Milwaukee Bucks

Had the Mavs won, they would have been even with the ninth-place Utah Jazz and only a half game behind the Lakers in the fight for the West’s final playoff seed. But the Mavs got blown out instead.

“Terrible time to have a dud,” Elton Brand said. “It’s disheartening. So many ups and downs in the season. It’s one of those games that [if] we win, you see the Lakers lose and feel great about yourselves. To have a dud on your home floor is definitely disheartening.”

Added Nowitzki: “Knowing the Lakers lost now, we had an opportunity to cut into their lead. And it sucks. It sucks.”

2. Off game for James: Mike James, the 37-year-old journeyman guard, has been an unlikely catalyst for the Mavs’ recent success. They were 9-3 with James in the starting lineup entering Thursday night.

Make that 9-4 after James’ worst performance as the Mavs’ starting point guard.

James was scoreless on 0-of-4 shooting and had as many fouls (four) as assists. The Mavs were outscored by 22 points in his 21 minutes, giving him the worst plus-minus of the night.

“Whatever happens, there’s no excuses,” James said. “I’m not going to make no excuses about my play. I didn’t play a good game tonight. I know my team needs my energy, so I’ll get myself ready tomorrow to play on Saturday.”

3. Playing in pain: O.J. Mayo shrugged off a question about his sore left shoulder Thursday morning, saying it was “just a little swollen” and would be OK.

It’s clearly somewhat of a concern, considering that he wore a harness to protect the shoulder against the Pacers. He injured it when he crashed into the courtside seats while chasing a loose ball late in Tuesday’s win over the Clippers.

“He’s wearing that thing, so it’s bothering him some,” Carlisle said. “He hasn’t missed a practice or a game all season, so he’s going to keep battling.”