DALLAS _ Although the Dallas Mavericks have won 16 of their last 17 games, they've barely gained any ground lately on the first-place San Antonio Spurs in the Southwest Division.
That's because the Spurs have been almost as red-hot at the Mavs. However, the Mavs did pick up half-a-game on the Spurs on Thursday when San Antonio had its 10-game winning streak snapped by Orlando, 123-101.
The Spurs still lead the division with a 25-4 record, 1 1/2 games ahead of the 23-5 Mavs.
"The West is tough,'' Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "This division again is back to being one of the toughest in all of sports.
"The Spurs are having a great year. They’re going to continue to be good.''
Guard Jason Terry said of course the players do some scoreboard watching, especially on days when they're not playing.
"The only score I'm just focused on is San Antonio, and they finally lost (Thursday) night,'' Terry said. "I'm definitely looking at all the teams in the West, but the only team we're trying to catch is them, so I'm always watching them.
"They're having a phenomenal year, and there's about three or four teams having a good year to this point. But the key is can you maintain it, can you continue to stay focused, and can you get better?''
That's the challenge for all the teams who have legitimate chances of winning the NBA title.
"A couple of those teams are going to peak out,'' Terry said. "I'm going to tell you right now, it's not going to be the Mavericks.''
-- Dwain Price