Dallas Mavericks

Mavericks lose to Spurs, drop to 8th in playoff race

Tobey Maguire, aka Spiderman, attended Thursday night’s game between the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs.

And the Mavs sure could have used some help from the Hollywood box-office superstar.

Caught once again in the Spurs’ web, the Mavs couldn’t get untangled and had to crawl home on the short end of a 109-100 score at American Airlines Center.

The loss could prove crucial to the Mavs’ playoff hopes as they dropped from seventh in the Western Conference standings to eighth.

With two games left, Dallas owns a 48-32 record and a .600 winning percentage. The Phoenix Suns moved up to the seventh spot with a 47-31 record and a .603 winning percentage.

Meanwhile, the Memphis Grizzlies (46-32) are only a game behind the Mavs and don’t appear to be going away anytime soon.

With their four-game winning streak snapped, the Mavericks’ magic number to clinch a postseason berth remains at two. Any combination of victories by Dallas and losses by the Grizzlies equaling two would put the Mavs in the playoffs for the first time in two seasons.

But with their situation so critical, coach Rick Carlisle wasn’t in any mood to address anything pertaining to the playoffs. He’s just trying to win a game.

“I’m not answering any questions about the playoffs until we get there,’’ Carlisle said. “We’ve got work to do.

“One of our goals is to get [to the playoffs]. When we get there we will talk about matchups.”

The Mavs host the Suns on Saturday before finishing the regular season at Memphis on Wednesday in a pair of games that have obvious playoff implications.

The Spurs didn’t come to town to do their Texas brethren any favors and assist them in their quest to collect a playoff spot. Although they left the injured Tony Parker at home, the Spurs were resilient in finishing off a 4-0 sweep of the Mavs this season as they continue to try and fend off the Oklahoma City Thunder for home court advantage throughout the playoffs.

This was the ninth consecutive time the Spurs have beaten the Mavs, who, despite 24 points from Monta Ellis and 19 from Dirk Nowitzki, just can’t punch the right buttons when matched up against San Antonio.

“They move the ball so well,” guard Devin Harris said of the Spurs. “They take up every ounce on the shot clock and make you guard for 24 seconds.

“They take advantage of your mistakes and make you pay for them. The extra effort pays, if they do miss a three they get the offensive rebound and get another crack at it.’’

Playing some inspired ball after a 4-0 road trip, the Mavs actually led 51-49 at the half. But they promptly were outscored 22-9 and fell behind 71-60 midway through the third quarter when Patty Mills scored 11 of his game-high 26 points.

Starting in place of Parker, Mills had three 3-pointers in the surge that knocked the Mavs off their feet. Also, Tim Duncan poured in 11 of his 20 points in the third quarter, and Kawhi Leonard finished the night with 16 points and a career-high 16 rebounds.

“Most of our problems were in transition,” Carlisle said. “We just didn’t find them quick enough.

“We just weren’t good enough in that area. It was an area that was easily identifiable as one of the big keys for the game — we just came up short there.’’

San Antonio steamrolled ahead 88-72 with 10:09 remaining in the game. The Mavs, however, caught fire and got within 104-98 with 1:17 left behind a basket and a 3-pointer by Jose Calderon.

Leonard, though, followed with his own 3-pointer a few seconds later and the Spurs were comfortably ahead 107-98, while the Mavs were wondering about their immediate future.

“Right now we have to win two games,” Carlisle said. “But I will say the law of averages is in our favor.’’

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