Apologies to Vince Carter. Once again, 36-year-old Carter was a pleasure to watch Monday night. In the season’s next-to-last game, with little on the line, Carter played with youthful zeal and in the process passed another legend on the NBA’s career scoring list.

Carter passed Clyde Drexler for 27th place when he scored career points 22,196 and 22,197 on a reverse layup with 3:30 left in the first quarter against Memphis. Unfortunately, the milestone and Carter’s 22-point, five-rebound, four-assist effort became a footnote when Dallas lost and coach Rick Carlisle blasted O.J. Mayo’s listless performance.

“You accomplish things, something like that (and) you don’t pull out the win, it’s always tough,” Carter said. “But I’m very thankful for the milestone.”

This season, Carter has passed Hall of Famers Hal Greer, Larry Bird, Gary Payton and Drexler. Clearly, with one season left on his Mavericks contract after this one, Carter is physically capable and mentally motivated enough to climb a few more notches.

He has scored 1,079 points this season, with one game remaining, at home Wednesday night against Memphis. With 1,121 more points, he would pass Elgin Baylor, Adrian Dantley and Robert Parish on the career scoring list. Those fellows, too, are Hall of Famers, an indicator that Carter is a strong Hall candidate.

“It’s amazing,” Carter said. “You just think of the names of the people you’ve passed, that you’ve either looked up to, played against, considered legends, have respect for, it’s just like, ‘Wow.’ You kind of hear your name passing those people, it’s just very humbling and I’m very thankful for the opportunity.

“I put a lot of work in during my career. I’ve been fortunate enough to play this long and still be able to produce for a team. Great things like that can come to you just from longevity and just staying in the league.”