The Dallas Mavericks will miss the postseason, but they can get their record back to .500 with a win Sunday when they visit the New Orleans Hornets.
The Mavs trail the Los Angeles Lakers for the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference by 3 1/2 games with only three to play. That means the Mavs' streak of 12 consecutive postseason appearances came to an end.
Yet, despite the disappointment, the Mavs will press forward.
"We've got three more to go and hopefully we can get another win Sunday in New Orleans," said Dirk Nowitzki, who needs 10 points to become the 17th player in NBA history to score 25,000. "I think we've been chasing .500 for a long, long time. Every time we're right there we've taken a big L, so we've got another chance Sunday and it's a big game for us."
Dallas has won three of its last four, including a 108-105 home overtime win over the Denver Nuggets.
Nowitzki and Vince Carter each scored 22 points for the Mavs in the victory and both posted double-doubles. Nowitzki grabbed 10 rebounds and Carter, making a late charge for the Sixth Man of the Year award, pulled down 12 boards.
O.J. Mayo and Shawn Marion both scored in double digits for the Mavericks, who finish the season with home games against the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday and these Hornets on Wednesday.
New Orleans has dropped three in a row and five of its last six.
On Friday, the Hornets fought, but fell at home to the Los Angeles Clippers, 96-93.
It was a performance muddied by mistakes. The Hornets missed 15 free throws and allowed a staggering 31 points in the final seven minutes of the contest.
"I am proud of the way that our guys just hung in there and gave ourselves a chance to win with so many guys being out," said head coach Monty Williams. "I told them this morning that today was going to be tough. We've got a number of things working against us, but we just can't give in to those excuses. We just have to go out and battle. That's what we did. We just gave up too many points in the fourth and so did they. We scored 30 points."
New Orleans played without both Anthony Davis (strained MCL in left knee) and Greivis Vasquez (right ankle sprain).
Eric Gordon paced the Hornets with 25 points. Robin Lopez had a double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds, while Ryan Anderson added 17. Brian Roberts, who started in place of Vasquez, posted 15 points and 11 assists.
The two teams split the season series thus far with each team winning on the road. The two will see each other soon as they close out the regular season on Wednesday in Dallas.