Wednesday night ended up being the final jab into the collective jaw of the Dallas Mavericks. They suffered a devastating 102-91 loss to the Phoenix Suns. On top of that, the Los Angeles Lakers were able to secure a 113-106 loss in Portland to the Trail Blazers. The combination of the Dallas loss and Los Angeles win sealed the fate for the Mavericks. Dallas is now officially eliminated from playoff contention, ending their 12 year streak of consecutive trips to the postseason.
The loss to Phoenix put an end to the Suns’ 10-game losing streak. Before securing the victory, the Suns had not defeated the Mavericks at American Airlines Center since Mar. 14, 2007, when they recorded a 129-127 double-overtime win. The Mavericks had won 10 straight and 22 of the last 27 matchups with the Suns in Dallas before the loss.
Goran Dragic (21 points and a game-high 13 assists) and Luis Scola (11 points and a game-high 15 rebounds) both recorded double-doubles for Phoenix in the win.
Shawn Marion tallied a game-high 22 points to go along with a team-high nine rebounds and three steals in 34 minutes. He scored 20-plus points for the third straight game (eighth time this season).
Some notes before the quotes:
- Marion’s game marked the first time since February 2007 that he scored 20-plus points in three consecutive games (27 at Minnesota Feb. 23, 2007, 21 at Atlanta Feb. 25, 2007, 22 at Indiana Feb. 27, 2007). Marion is averaging 22.3 points and 9.3 rebounds over his last three games.
- Dirk Nowitzki totaled 21 points to go along with eight rebounds and three assists in 34 minutes. It was his 17th game with 20-plus points this season.
- The streak of 12 consecutive trips to the postseason was longest in franchise history and was the second-longest in the NBA. At 10 years, the Denver Nuggets now hold the second-longest active streak in the league. San Antonio (16 consecutive playoff appearances) is the only team with a longer active streak.
- Before this run of 12 straight playoff appearances, Dallas longest streak was five, from 1983-88.
- Dallas’ 12 straight playoff appearances ties for 13th-longest in NBA history. Syracuse/Philadelphia holds record of 22 straight (1960-81)
Here is the quoteboard for Dallas’ death blow of a loss to Phoenix.
On tonight’s game: “It’s disappointing because it was just another opportunity lost to get back to even as far as our record. We really were just not good enough from start to finish. We didn’t win one single quarter, there was one tie. It was a decisive win for them. We played poorly. Give them their due; they played a really good game. Dragic was the best player on the floor. He shredded us from the start of the game to the end. Here’s where we are at: we’ve got four games left, and we’ve got to stay in this thing and keep battling.”
On Phoenix’s 12-0 run after the Mavs tied the game 63-63: “Our mindset was good coming out of halftime. We mounted a charge and we built it around good defense. But then, when they answered it, we didn’t respond well. That’s this league. This is a league full of skilled players. There’s going to be nights when guys like Tucker hit 3-4 from three and Johnson jumps up and hits a bunch of shots. To absorb that, you’ve got to have your mindset right and you’ve got to be really tied together. We just didn’t get it done.”
On .500 being a psychological issue for the team: “I don’t know. Listen, I view these one game at a time. I’ve been around this too long and been humbled too many times to be looking ahead or thinking in terms of the mountain of getting to .500. That’s not what anybody is about around here. This was about winning one game and then getting ready for the next game. We had a disappointing night.”
On if his team lacks an attention span: “I think there’s a lot of observations that can be made about this team. The truth is, we’re a team of parts that fit together a certain way. The collective disposition, the collective will, the collective understanding of each other has got to be there for us to play at our best. There’s been times where really good shot-making nights have been a deodorant for some of our flaws. At the end of the day, we’ve got four games left and we’ve got to stick together and keep fighting.”
Summing it up: “We all came up short tonight, and I’m at the top of the list.”
On the loss: “I guess we just underestimated them tonight and they came in here and got a win. They were on a 10-game losing streak I think and they played a back-to-back last night and came in here and won.”
Is this about as low as it gets? “No, you know when you become a professional athlete you set standards for yourself and your team and when I go out on the floor I leave it all out there and I don’t know any other way to play other than to leave it all out on the floor. You can’t control the ball going into the hoop, but you can control your effort. When you’re not able to go out there and give it your all and give 110% than something’s wrong and maybe you need to sit down. There is no reason we should have lost this game tonight. Being a professional athlete, dealing with the ups and downs we’ve had this season, you’ve got to look at yourself and say, ‘are you give it your all? … Effort is the only thing you can control.”
Does this loss define their season? “In a nutshell, pretty much.”
The mindset: “We can’t quit. I’m not going to quit. I’m not going to let this team quit, if I can help it.”
On if they took the Suns for granted: “I think we took the team for granted in the beginning and felt like we could just win the game and not attack them early. They attack us early … We just took their record, their streak for granted, if you ask me.”
The game: “This was a game we had to have … We were the team that looked like we were on a back-to-back with them. It was just a terrible, terrible, disappointing loss.”
On if this loss was a microcosm of their season: “Every loss has been a microcosm of our season.”
On if he’ll sit and rest if they’re mathematically eliminated: “I’m going to finish the season like everybody else.”
Still playing to get to .500: “That means something and we’re going to fight for it … We obviously want to finish the season with a positive record. We owe that to everybody, to the franchise and to the fans.”
Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.