Mavs, Jazz try to make Western Conference playoffs
The Dallas Mavericks won't let their playoff hopes fade and Sunday's matchup with the Utah Jazz in Big D could go a long way in deciding which team really has a chance at making the postseason.
The Mavs trail the Los Angeles Lakers by 2 1/2 games for the eighth and final playoff spot. Utah is only 1 1/2 games behind L.A. and one ahead of Dallas, so Sunday's game is a significant one.
The Mavericks have won seven of their last 10 and two of their last three.
On Friday, the Mavs downed the Boston Celtics, 104-94. Brandan Wright was a revelation with 23 points and eight rebounds and Dirk Nowitzki added 22 points.
Shawn Marion returned from injury and finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds. Vince Carter added 19 off the bench and O.J. Mayo netted 10.
Marion's return wasn't the only big one on Friday. Jason Terry came back to Dallas after eight seasons with the Mavericks. He signed as a free-agent with the Celtics in the offseason.
"It was great. Great to see him," said Nowitzki. "I knew he was going to get a big ovation. What he meant to this city and meant to our team winning the championship, I mean, he's a vital piece."
But the focus is quickly back on the task ahead of the Mavericks.
"Obviously it's a huge win for us because we've got to win as many as we possibly can," Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle said. "Boston is a team that's been playing well, so we've got to validate this by coming out on Sunday and doing it again, playing this kind of game again."
Utah has dropped three straight and 11 of its last 14.
On Friday, the Jazz fought hard, but came short in San Antonio against the Spurs. The game went to overtime and the Spurs outscored the Jazz 14-7 to win 104-97.
"We were playing a little out of desperation. We brought a lot of energy tonight. We just didn't make the plays down the end of the stretch that we should have," Jazz forward Gordon Hayward said. "It is still a loss. I am proud of the way we fought but a loss is a loss. We have to find ways to get wins."
Mo Williams paced the Jazz with 23 points. Al Jefferson registered a double- double with 18 points and 13 rebounds and Paul Millsap and Alec Burks both scored in double digits.
Utah has won both of this season's matchups, which were both played in Salt Lake City. The Jazz have won three in a row, but Dallas took the seven before that and Utah hasn't won in Dallas in its last four tries.