HOUSTON – Rick Carlisle didn’t mind expressing his thoughts about Saturday’s 101-99 overtime win over the Houston Rockets.
“It was the biggest win of the year for us,’’ the Dallas Mavericks coach said. “It really was.
“We were fighting back all night – until the end of regulation. They made a couple of plays, and we made a couple of plays.’’
In the end, the Mavs made more clutch plays than the Rockets. And that’s why the Mavs (28-22) are in the No. 5th spot in the Western Conference standings, while the Rockets (26-23) are in the No. 9 spot and would be out of the playoffs if they started today.
Had the Mavs lost Saturday, they would have been in the No. 9 spot. Thus, the sense of urgency form the defending NBA champions.
“We knew (about the playoff slippage) a long time ago,’’ said Dirk Nowitzki, who tallied 31 points. “Especially coming out of that nine games in 12 days (stretch) and how many spots we slipped down in the standings.
“We definitely knew then it was going to be on for the rest of the season. If that means we’ve got to scrap like we did tonight and grind those wins out, then that’s what we’ve got to do.’’
Thanks to eight points in the fourth quarter by Jason Terry – he also scored six of the Mavs’ 10 points in overtime – Dallas was able to get out of town with a much-needed victory. The win snapped a two-game losing skid for the struggling Mavs, who again got beat on the board, 52-38.
“I love playing in this building,’’ said Terry, who was 9-of-16 from the field and tallied 24 points. “It’s a great shooting background.
“I’m very comfortable here. They said it’s a playoff game, and that’s all I need to hear.’’
And with teams dropping two or three spots in one day, the Mavs don’t believe anything is a lock at this point.
“Nobody is guaranteed of being in the playoffs,’’ Terry said. “You’re a three- or four-game losing streak from being out (of the playoffs) , so you have to really look at every game and take it serious.’’
The next game the Mavs are taking serious is, well, Houston. The Rockets will complete this home-and-home series when they face the Mavs at American Airlines Center on Tuesday night.
“The next one will be even bigger,’’ Terry said. “Hopefully once we get to the playoffs -- if we get
there, which I’m optimistic that we are going to be there – it’s going to turn around for us. ‘’
-- Dwain Price
Follow me on Twitter