DALLAS -- In just his second game with the Dallas Mavericks, Mike James had the type of impact the front office and coaching staff was expecting when they signed the 37-year-old point guard to a 10-day contract on Tuesday.
During the 117-112 overtime victory over Sacramento on Thursday night, James finished with two points, one rebound and one steal in 15 minutes. But it was his overall floor game in taking command of the Mavs' offense that drew high praise from coach Rick Carlisle.
"He looks like an NBA player," Carlisle said. "He's got a lot of moxie, he's got a lot of experience, he's not afraid, and he's going to be aggressive.
"We put him in a tough position [Thursday] in a lot of ways. But he responded extremely well and he wanted to be out there."
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Star-Telegram
James, who is still learning the nuances of the Mavs' plays, was on the court during crunch time.
"I was focusing on defense, helping and talking and just really trying to help and get guys involved, get guys open shots and just try to help keep things under control in the fourth quarter," James said. "Our biggest thing has been in the fourth quarter we've lost a lot of games.
"So I just made sure that while I was out there if the shot was there, take it, if the play was there, make it."
Dirk Nowitzki appreciates the calming influence James brought to the court against the Kings, and hopes it continues tonight at 8 when the Mavs host the Memphis Grizzlies.
"His experience is going to give us some savviness," Nowitzki said. "He's been around the block, obviously ... just come in there and plays under control, plays hard, competes.
"He's talking out there, very vocal and pushing the guys at that position. I think he's going to get even better as he gets more comfortable around the guys."
Mayo set for rematch
O.J. Mayo claims he wasn't nervous when the Mavs lost to the Grizzlies in Memphis 92-82 on Dec. 21.
With Tony Allen shadowing him everywhere, Mayo finished that game with just 10 points, three rebounds, four assists and five turnovers in 35 minutes, and was 3-of-11 from the field, including just 1-of-4 from 3-point range. It was Mayo's first game against his former team since they allowed him to become a free agent last summer by refusing to pick up the $7.3 million qualifying offer on his contract.
"It was just a little different," said Mayo, who spent his first four seasons with the Grizzlies. "There probably was a little butterflies and excitement.
"I wanted to be aggressive, but not too aggressive and not out of control. But that's the good thing about coming to this [Southwest] division, you've got them four times a year, so it'll be fun."
Finding themselves down by 17 points Thursday against the Sacramento Kings with 3:50 remaining in the third quarter, it appeared as though the Mavs' losing streak was going to continue.
But in what they described as a "must" win, the Mavs dug deep and managed to eke out a 117-112 overtime victory against the Kings.
"We've been scratching and clawing, and it's good to have some things to show for the efforts," Rick Carlisle said. "Now we've got a chance to go back home. But we've got tough games at home, so we're going to have to be ready."
The Mavs open a four-game homestand tonight against Memphis. They'll also play Minnesota, Houston and Oklahoma City on this homestand.
All four of those teams are playing .500 or better basketball. All of those teams -- except the Timberwolves -- would be in the playoffs if the postseason started today.
On the overtime win over Sacramento, forward Vince Carter said: "I was glad to see our team buckle down and execute and find a way."
The Mavs hit 5 of 6 shots and outrebounded Sacramento 7-2 in the overtime period.
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760