Dallas Mavericks

Was Mavericks’ six-game winning streak fool’s gold?

Dirk Nowitzki, right, and the Mavericks could not handle Blake Griffin and the Clippers on Saturday in a 120-100 loss.
Dirk Nowitzki, right, and the Mavericks could not handle Blake Griffin and the Clippers on Saturday in a 120-100 loss. AP

Looking back at that impressive six-game winning streak that the Dallas Mavericks strung together from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5, it appears to be fool’s gold.

The streak started when the Mavs nipped the Los Angeles Lakers — an injured Kobe Bryant didn’t play — 102-98. Two days later, Dallas held on to beat an Oklahoma City team (112-107) that was without injured superstar Kevin Durant.

On Dec. 30, the Mavs ran all over a Washington team (114-87) that went down to the wire the night before in a win at Houston. From there, the Mavs emerged victorious in Boston (119-101) on Jan. 2 against a Celtics squad that had recently traded four-time All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo to Dallas.

The Mavs then won at Cleveland (109-90) against a Cavaliers squad that was without the world’s best player — the injured LeBron James. Then the Mavs claimed their sixth consecutive victory, 96-88 in overtime, against a Brooklyn team that was without Kevin Garnett and Deron Williams.

“It was a favorable schedule; we took advantage of it,” coach Rick Carlisle said Monday. “Now we’re into tougher games.”

And when the games got tougher, the Mavs lost at home Wednesday to the revamped Detroit Pistons (108-95) and were hammered by the Los Angeles Clippers 120-100 on Saturday.

“Detroit now has become a top team,” Carlisle said. “They’re a very hard-playing team and they rebound well, so they got us that night.

“The Clippers, you know, we just really struggled in a lot of areas.”

The Mavs (26-12) hope to snap their modest two-game losing streak Tuesday night at 9 when they play the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena. Either way, the Mavs know there are no easy pickings when it comes to playing in the NBA.

“I don’t think there’s any point in time during an NBA season when you exhale and say, ‘Yeah, we’ve got it figured out,’” Carlisle said. “The games keep coming, the competition is too good, the stakes are too high, and so we’ve got to continue to strive to get better.

“Right now, we’re in a period of a tough stretch of games, a long way from home. So we’ve got to stick together and keep fighting.”

Funeral for Tarpley

Funeral services for former Mavs forward Roy Tarpley will be held Saturday morning in Prichard, Ala.

Tarpley, who played for the Mavs from 1986-90 and 1994-95, died Friday in Arlington.

Rolando Blackman, a former teammate of Tarpley, will be part of the Mavs’ contingent that will attend Saturday’s funeral.

“It’s a sad day because [Tarpley] was not only a fantastic human personality, but he was just a good, good guy, just a great soul when you talk about a teammate as far as his personality is concerned,” Blackman said. “I won’t even go to the point of saying how great a player he was and how great a player he could have become.”

Like others who played with Tarpley, Blackman believes Tarpley’s potential was through the roof.

“I often told him, ‘Make sure you get me two tickets to the All-Star game,’” Blackman said. “I’ll pay for them, because I figured he would be a perennial All-Star year after year after year with the greatness of his talent.”

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @dwainprice

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