DALLAS -- For the first time since the 1999-2000 season, the Dallas Mavericks won't be one of the 16 teams participating in the NBA playoffs.
The Mavs apparently weren't in the right frame of mind Wednesday night when they were embarrassed by the Phoenix Suns, 102-91, at American Airlines Center. Coupled with the Los Angeles Lakers' 113-106 win at Portland, that offcially knocked the Mavs from playoff contention.
Thus, this is the first full season since Mark Cuban bought the Mavs that this franchise will watch the playoffs from the sidelines. Cuban purchased the Mavs from Ross Perot Jr. on Jan. 4, 2000, and starting with the 2000-'01 campaign, the Mavs had advanced to the playoffs every single season.
The horrific loss to a Suns' squad that came in toting a 10-game losing streak sort of summarizes the issues the Mavs have encountered this season. The Suns have the third-worst record in the entire NBA and the worst record in the Western Conference, but played with so much poise against the Mavs.
“We were just not good enough from start to finish,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said. “It was a decisive win for them, and we played poorly.
“Give them their due. They played a really good game.’’
The Suns (24-55) rushed out to a 28-14 lead late in the first quarter, saw the Mavs tie it at 63-all early in the third period, then went on an immediate 12-0 run to go back up 75-63. A Dirk Nowitzki basket helped the Mavs rally within 93-89 with 2:03 left in the game.
But a little over a minute later the Suns were ahead, 98-89, after PJ Tucker tallied five straight points.
“Our mindset was good coming out of halftime,’’ Carlisle said. “We mounted a charge, we built it around good defense, but when they answered it we didn’t respond well.''
And because the Mavs didn't respond well, they now are only playing for pride, and for the opportunity to keep their streak of finishing the season with a winning record to 13 years in a row.
“This is definitely a tough loss,’’ guard Mike James said. “You can’t give any team, regardless of their record, any confidence.
“They were hitting shots early, and even when we went on a run they were able to maintain the lead. It’s unfortunate, because we had a chance to do something good tonight and we’ve got to regroup and prepare ourselves for the next game and end this season on a good note.’’
-- Dwain Price
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