Mavericks end two-game skid, but gain nothing in bleak playoff outlook

04/06/2013 2:12 AM

04/06/2013 3:40 AM

After a very emotional loss Thursday night in Denver that crippled their playoff chances, the Dallas Mavericks hopped back on the NBA roller coaster the next day and walked away with some palatable results.

Shawn Marion collected 25 points and 12 rebounds, and the Mavs pumped up their offense over the last three quarters en route to upending the Sacramento Kings 117-108 on Friday night at Sleep Train Arena.

Unfortunately for the Mavs (37-39), their playoff chances took another huge hit as both the Los Angeles Lakers (40-36) and Utah Jazz (40-37) won their games on Friday.

Los Angeles beat Memphis 86-84, and Utah stayed a half-game behind LA with a 95-83 victory over New Orleans.

Dallas has only six games remaining in the regular season.

That means any combination of Dallas losses and Lakers victory that add up to three will officially eliminate the Mavs from the playoffs. Both LA and Utah hold the tiebreaker advantage over Dallas.

But that mattered not to the Mavs against the Kings, who they have now beaten 15 out of their last 16 matchups. Still seemingly stunned by what happened to them in Denver on Thursday when they crumbled down the stretch and lost 95-94, the Mavs trailed 27-18 after the first period.

However, they poured it on from there, scoring 41 points in the second period and adding another 33 in the third period to take a 92-81 lead into the fourth quarter.

“We were moving the ball,’’ said Shawn Marion, who finished with 25 points and 12 boards. “Everybody was looking for each other, making extra passes, and we were finding the open man.

“We kept the game simple tonight. We just did everything right and got it done.’’

The Mavs got it done because they shot 51.1 percent from the field, committed just nine turnovers and only lost the rebounding battle by a slim 45-43 margin.

“We started to get some stops,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said of his team’s offensive efficiency in the second period. “It’s very rare you’re going to hold them under 100, but we felt like if we could keep it somewhere near 100 we’d have a chance if we were having a decent shot-making night.

“Our balance was good, we shared the ball well and for us we rebounded well, so that was key.’’

Still, the sting of the loss to the Nuggets was apparent in the opening quarter when the Mavs converted just 8 of 23 shots while allowing the Kings to go 11-of-20 from the field.

“It’s always good to get a win after a tough loss,’’ said Brandan Wright, who had 20 points, six rebounds and two blocks. “We came out and played pretty hard.

“We were a little slow in the first quarter, which is kind of expected after playing Denver, but we put it together. We put up 99 points in [the last[ three quarters, so you can’t ask for more than that.”

Dallas led by as much as 15 points (83-68 with 5:11 left in the third period) following a 13-footer by Chris Kaman. However, the Kings kept pressing and attacking, and they crawled within 94-90 after a driving basket by Tyreke Evans with 10:11 remaining in the game.

The Mavs, though, got five points form Darren Collison (18 points, eight assists) and four from O.J. Mayo (13 points six assists) while answering with a brisk 9-0 run to pad their lead to 103-90.

Now 1-2 on this road trip that ends Sunday night in Portland, the Mavs know only a miracle will get them yet another playoff berth. And their approach is all about waiting for that miracle to occur.

“We’re going game to game and we’re trying to win every game,’’ Carlisle said. “We want to hang around and give ourselves a chance in the playoff picture.

“If we can get on a roll we feel like we can just hang in there. It’s a prideful group of guys, it’s been a tough year, and we want to finish on an up-tick and we want to give ourselves a chance to make the playoffs.’’

Dirk Nowitzki, who tallied 16 points and collected six boards in 29 minutes, liked the way the Mavs remained focused after that horrific loss to the Nuggets.

“I’m proud of the guys how we always respond to hard, gut-punching losses and come back the next day and compete,’’ Nowitzki said. “We’ve had numerous and numerous and numerous tough losses this year.

“Somehow we always get back up. Obviously that’s a tribute to Coach and how he always gets us ready to play, and the guys keep working and keep playing hard.’’

The floor game by Collison was much needed and was the impetus the Mavs used to collect 30 assists.

“I thought we all did some good things, especially late down the stretch of the game,’’ Collison said. “I’m kind of a little bit upset about the last game, but the good thing about the NBA is you get to move forward.’’

A three-point play by Collison followed by a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Nowitzki off a feed from Collison staked the Mavs to a 59-53 lead at the half. The hot-shooting Mavs kept on running and scoring and frustrating the Kings, who shot 44.8 percent from the floor.

Now, with just six games left in the regular season, the Mavs can only hope they can catch a few breaks the rest of the way.

“At this point we just have to keep winning,’’ said Vince Carter, who had seven points and eight assists. “Every game is important to us.

“Everything else doesn’t matter, because if [the Lakers and Jazz] are losing and we’re not winning, we’re not going to accomplish anything, either. So I think it’s important for us to just stay focused and keep winning.’’

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @dwainprice

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