We talked about the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West between the Jazz and the Lakers earlier today, but the Mavericks are likely to be in the conversation through the end of the regular season, as well.
Dallas has finally gotten Dirk Nowitzki back healthy, and has now won 11 of its last 16 games after a thrilling 100-98 comeback win over the Bulls on Saturday afternoon.
Chicago held a lead of 97-85 with 4:08 remaining, but the Mavericks closed the game on a 15-1 run, capped off by Dirk’s three-pointer (seen in the video clip above) with two seconds left that gave his team the victory.
Nowitzki finished with 35 points on 14-17 shooting, including 5-6 from three-point distance. Vince Carter chipped in 17, as did reserve big man Brandan Wright, who feasted inside thanks to Joakim Noah once again being forced to sit out due to injury.
The win puts Dallas just a game back of both Utah and L.A. for that last playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Jazz own the tie-breaker over both the Lakers and Mavericks, so Dallas would need to make up two games in the standings on Utah over its last nine games to overtake them in the standings.
Dallas is 1-2 against the Lakers this season, but faces them in Los Angeles on April 2 in a game that is huge for the Mavericks’ postseason chances. Should Dallas tie the season series with a victory, the next tiebreaker is won-loss record in the conference, which could very possibly come down to the final game of the regular season.
DeMarcus Cousins out for Kings vs. Warriors Saturday
Not only are the Kings 1-6 without Cousins, but they were also on their way to beating Charlotte Monday until Cousins had to leave the game.
Golden State will likely be without Harrison Barnes in this game after spraining his ankle in the last game. Expect Andre Iguodala to get the start, or if interim coach Luke Walton doesn’t want to mess with the bench rotation he could go with Brandon Rush.
Good news: Anthony Davis listed as probably vs. Utah Saturday
The Pelicans had won three in a row until they ran into the Clippers Friday night. Davis has played better of late — the New Orleans defense is 7.2 points per 100 better when he is on the court — and New Orleans has gotten better point guard play out of Ish Smith.
Stephen Curry abuses Sun’s Price with behind-the-back, pull-up three (VIDEO)
An on-fire Warriors team dropped 44 on the Suns in the first quarter Saturday, and Curry had 19 of those points going 5-of-6 from three. The Suns’ had no defender who could begin to hang with him. Certainly not Ronnie Price, who came in off the bench and got abused for his efforts.
We tend to think of record streaks having to be in one season, not broken up across two.
But if you can suspend that, the Philadelphia 76ers are now the owners of the longest losing streak in NBA — and major professional sports — history.
With their tough two-points loss to Houston Friday night, the Sixers have lost 27 in a row. The Sixers dropped their final 10 last season and with the loss to the Rockets are 0-17 to start this one.
That bests the 26-game losing streaks of the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers and these same Sixers from 2013-14. Looking across sports, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of 1976-1977 also lost 26 in a row, which when you consider the length of the NFL season is pretty embarrassing.
The Sixers struggles are born from a plan by GM Sam Hinkie (and approved by ownership) to get better long-term by being bad now and hoarding draft picks. It’s a strategy that can work if Hinkie nails the draft picks (the book is out on how Hinkie is doing on that front). And they are committed to it through at least this draft.
But don’t think for a second the players and coach are trying to lose.
If you have watched the Sixers play their last few games you know the players are trying hard to get that victory (and almost have a couple of times). The effort is there, they are just outmatched and lack the kind of presence at the end of games to execute under pressure (something a couple of quality, regularly-playing veterans might help, but that’s another discussion). They have the point differential of a team that should have a couple wins; they just haven’t been fortunate. It happens. Go ahead and blame management if you think this plan is an abomination. Just don’t question the desire or effort of the players or coaches, that is not in doubt.
The Sixers play at the Grizzlies Sunday, then have maybe their best shot at a win for a while when they host the Lakers on Tuesday.