When the Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns used to hook up, it was required viewing.
Now, when the two meet, like they will on Friday night in Phoenix, it will be two lower-tiered Western Conference teams trying to salvage anything this season.
The Mavericks lost their second in a row Thursday night in Oakland to the Golden State Warriors. Andrew Bogut blocked a Brandan Wright shot late and Jarrett Jack canned a pair of big free throws to give the Warriors a 100-97 victory.
Dallas played without Dirk Nowitzki due to a right adductor strain and was led by O.J. Mayo's 25 points. Vince Carter netted 22 points, while Shawn Marion chipped in 18 points and 17 boards in the Mavs' second consecutive loss.
Center Chris Kaman also missed the Warriors game with concussion-related problems.
The Mavericks fell in Portland to the Blazers on Monday and that game came down to the wire. Mayo was called for an offensive foul at the end of the Portland game, which the NBA admitted was an incorrect call. Head coach Rick Carlisle thought there should have been a whistle on Bogut's block and was none too happy after the Warriors game.
"Brandan Wright got hit on the arm and it's obvious," said Carlisle. "And it's two nights in a row. It's very tough to take with as hard as our guys are fighting to not be on the free throw line with a chance to go ahead with six seconds left or whatever it is."
The Suns ended a two-game losing streak Wednesday with a home victory over Steve Nash and the Los Angeles Lakers. It was Nash's first appearance in Phoenix since he was traded to the Suns' Pacific Division rival in the offseason.
The Suns overcame a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit thanks in large part to Michael Beasley. He scored 27 points, including what turned out to be the game-winner with 43.8 seconds remaining, to ice the 92-86 win.
"We just told each other we do not want to lose, especially in front of a crowd like that and on national TV," said Beasley. "It just was not an option for us. We went out there and executed where we needed to execute."
Luis Scola, Marcin Gortat, Jared Dudley and Goran Dragic each scored in double figures. Nash, who received a standing ovation Wednesday night, only had 11 points.
The Mavericks have won 16 of their last 20 against the Suns. Dallas topped the Suns twice this season, once in Dallas and once in Phoenix, and has won five of the last seven in Arizona.