The Dallas Mavericks' playoff chances are dwindling as the team has dropped two in a row, but hopes to get back on track Friday night when they visit the Sacramento Kings.
The Mavs lost their second straight on this four-game western trip when they fell to the Denver Nuggets on Thursday. Dallas is three games behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, and 2 1/2 games short of the Utah Jazz.
The Mavericks started this road excursion with a loss to the Lakers, then led most of the way against the Nuggets. Denver called timeout with 7.7 seconds left and down by one, and Andre Iguodala converted a layup for the lead. Anthony Morrow's last-ditch 3-point attempt was blocked by Corey Brewer and the Mavs were dealt yet another late-game blow in a bid for 13 consecutive trips to the postseason.
"That's got to be 20 games we've lost," Nowitzki said about the team's inclination to blow leads, "and it stings just as much as all of the rest of them. I mean, in all the games we felt like we gave away, it's tough. This is another we've got to have. Multiple chances at the end and we just need basically one rebound to seal it. It's tough, but we haven't shown all season on the road that consistently we can win those games."
Brandan Wright led the Mavs with 16 points. Nowitzki and Chris Kaman both had 13, Vince Carter and Darren Collison each had 11 and Shawn Marion chipped in 10. The starting backcourt of O.J. Mayo and Mike James combined for 10 points for a Mavs team that played without key backup frontcourt man Elton Brand, who had a sore right calf.
The Kings are trying to get something going on this homestand, the third of five straight at home. They are 0-2 thus far with losses to the Lakers on Saturday and the Houston Rockets on Wednesday.
The Rockets won each quarter on Wednesday and walked off with a 112-102 victory.
"Obviously a really disappointing loss," said Kings coach Keith Smart. "For our fans, this was a bad loss for us. We played, but we didn't play, we didn't create opportunities to win the game."
Tyreke Evans led the Kings with 22 points, followed by Marcus Thornton's 21 and 20 from DeMarcus Cousins. Jason Thompson had a monster double-double with 17 points and 15 rebounds.
The Kings won't make the postseason and their future is in serious limbo. On Wednesday, representatives from both Sacramento and Seattle made their pitches for the Kings and the league owners may not vote until after the Board of Governors meeting April 18-19.
The Mavericks have taken all three of this season's matchups with the Kings and have won five of their last six in Sacramento.