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Bearded Nowitzki can't extend Mavs' 12-season playoff streak; .500 record is only goal left

  • 83b2b5913175b30c2e0f6a706700ec39.jpg

    Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41), of Germany, is fouled by Phoenix Suns forward Luis Scola (14), of Argentina, during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, April 10, 2013, in Dallas. The Suns won 102-91. (AP Photo/LM Otero) (The Associated Press)

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    Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban argues a call with referee Brian Forte (45) during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, Wednesday, April 10, 2013, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) (The Associated Press)

  • 4a3ce712313cb20c2e0f6a7067005aba.jpg

    Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic (1), of Slovenia, drives against Dallas Mavericks center Chris Kaman (35) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, April 10, 2013, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) (The Associated Press)

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    Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle, left, yells at referee Brian Forte (45) during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, Wednesday, April 10, 2013, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) (The Associated Press)

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    Dallas Mavericks forward Shawn Marion, right, defends against Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Sunday, April 7, 2013. Marion scored 20 points as Dallas won 96-91. (AP Photo/Don Ryan) (The Associated Press)

Dirk Nowitzki was a baby-faced kid barely old enough to drink the last time the Dallas Mavericks missed the playoffs.

Now he's a bearded veteran who can't shave because he and others vowed not to until the team got back to .500.

Dallas still has a shot at a break-even record, but will be watching the playoffs for the first time since 2000.

An unexpected loss to lowly Phoenix put the Mavericks on the brink of postseason elimination Wednesday night. The Los Angeles Lakers finished them off a couple of hours later by beating Portland.

Just two years removed from the franchise's first championship, the Mavericks simply never recovered from Nowitzki missing the first 27 games after the first knee surgery of his career.