The Dallas Mavericks have an incredibly small window to make the Western Conference playoffs and need every win they can get. They will keep trying to get that eighth seed on Wednesday when they host the Phoenix Suns.
The Mavs are 2 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Lakers for that eighth and final seed out west. They also trail the Utah Jazz by two games, so the task is immense - they'll basically need to win out and have both the Lakers and Jazz stumble.
"We're just going to keep trying to collect wins and give ourselves the best chance that we can," O.J. Mayo said after practice Tuesday. "It's a goal of ours obviously and this is an important game for us."
Dallas has made the playoffs 12 straight seasons and that streak, which is the second-longest active one in the league behind only the San Antonio Spurs, is in jeopardy.
With a win on Wednesday, the Mavericks could get back to .500 for the first time since Dec. 12.
The Mavs finished off a 2-2 western road trip with back-to-back victories. They bested the Sacramento Kings on Friday, then topped the Portland Trail Blazers 96-91 on Sunday.
In the Blazers victory, Dirk Nowitzki landed awkwardly on his foot and didn't play in the fourth quarter. He is expected not to miss any time and his coach re-affirmed as much on Tuesday.
"He did a little bit of stuff on the side today, but he's doing better," said Rick Carlisle. "We don't consider this a serious thing and we're hoping that he's going to play tomorrow."
Dallas has four home games in its last five and the lone road game is in New Orleans.
The Suns lost their 10th in a row on Tuesday, falling to the Houston Rockets in Houston. Since March 1, the Suns are a dismal 3-16 and have fallen to last in the Western Conference standings.
The Suns fought hard in defeat on Tuesday. They fell 101-98 and the ending was one of the more bizarre ones in recent history. Phoenix's Jermaine O'Neal was whistled for goaltending on a James Harden 3-pointer at the buzzer.
"I felt the ball was outside the cylinder, so I just tried to knock it down and tried to swat it out so nobody else would try and tip it in," explained O'Neal. "I've never seen a game finish in a weirder way."
Luis Scola led the way for Phoenix with 28 points, while Goran Dragic had a double-double with 15 points and 10 assists.
The Mavericks have won all three games with Phoenix this season and 17 of the last 21 meetings. Phoenix has lost 10 straight and 11 of its last 12 in Big D.