Funny how one night of rest can change everything. The Dallas Mavericks went to sleep on April 2, and when they woke up the next day, they had jumped from ninth place in the Western Conference standings to seventh, putting them back in the playoffs. The Memphis Grizzles (44-31) were taken down by the Minnesota Timberwolves while the Phoenix Suns (44-31) lost to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night, allowing Dallas to hop up two seeds going into Thursday’s game against the Clippers.
Lately, the Mavericks’ primary concern has been their abstract way of blowing late leads when playing against Los Angeles, and it looked like that damaging streak was going to continue during the fourth quarter of their 113-107 win. Dallas was ahead 86-81 going into the final quarter, but LA guard J.J. Redick ended up tying the game at 89 on two free throws with 8:44 left. Thankfully, Mavericks All-Star Dirk Nowitzki and his pair of three-pointers led Dallas on a 10-0 run, pushing them up 99-89 with 6:36 left. The Clippers retaliated and wanted to prove that they were the youngest team on the court by going on their own 10-0 run and coming within two points with only 1:26 left on the clock. But Dallas matched LA’s vigor and pushed their lead faster than you can say “AARP” off two free throws by Nowitzki with 17.9 seconds left.
Nowitzki contributed 26 points and 11 rebounds to this much needed Dallas win, followed by Jose Calderon’s 19 points and Vince Carter’s (who thrived off the bench) 16. Calderon noted to the press that there were a lot of mistakes made by his team toward the end, but that everyone did a great job. “It’s a great win for us,” he exclaimed.
Clippers fans were treated to a coal-to-diamond clinching moment when forward Blake Griffin (who had his first triple-double of the season) rolled his ankle late in the game. LA coach Doc Rivers didn’t appear concerned after the game, stating that Griffin looked “okay” in the locker room.
With only a handful of games left in the regular season, the Mavericks understand the importance of gathering as many wins as humanly possible in order to keep ahead in the standings. They face the Los Angeles Lakers (or at least those cardboard cutouts that replaced the Lakers this season) Friday night before heading to Sacramento to take on DeMarcus Cousins and the Kings.