Ian Mahinmi ready if shot comes vs. Griffin

DALLAS -- Ian Mahinmi said he's ready to take the Blake Griffin challenge if he's summoned to play tonight against the Los Angeles Clippers.

"Oh yeah. You will never hear me say I can't don't want to guard someone," Mahinmi said. "As a young big, it is always a challenge to guard a rising superstar."

Now that Alexis Ajinca has been traded to Toronto, the Dallas Mavericks are down to three 7-footers at the center position (OK, technically, Mahinmi is listed at 6-11, but three 7-footers sounds better). And Mavs coach Rick Carlisle isn't afraid to use all three with Brendan Haywood and Mahinmi providing differing styles behind starter Tyson Chandler.

"I don't know If I am the backup or Brendan, but I just try to stay ready," Mahinmi said. "I think every time I go out there I earn the coaches' trust more and more."

Carlisle likes to plug in Mahinmi when he feels the team needs an energy jolt. Carlisle used him for 13 minutes in Saturday's 87-86 win over the New Jersey Nets. He scored six points and had just one rebound, although he played significantly more than Haywood, who was on the floor for just five minutes while averaging 17.7 minutes.

"We’ve got a real good 1-2-3 punch with our center position and I’ve got to keep all three guys engaged and ready," said Carlisle, who went on to say that he's happy with Haywood's production and work ethic. "I’ve got no complaints about anything having to do with effort or anything like that. It’s just keeping guys engaged, and I want to develop Ian as well as take advantage of what Brendan can give us."