Mavs try to keep playoff hopes alive, host Clippers

The Dallas Mavericks will continue their push to make the playoffs Tuesday night when they welcome the Los Angeles Clippers to the American Airlines Center.

The Mavs trail the Los Angeles Lakers by 1 1/2 games for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Lakers fell to the Golden State Warriors on Monday night to allow the Mavs a step closer to a 13th consecutive trip to the postseason.

Dallas has played good basketball of late, winning eight of its last 11. They've won two in a row, both at home, and Sunday's victory over the Utah Jazz was huge.

Utah stands between the Mavericks and Lakers in the postseason picture. The Mavs topped the Jazz, 113-108 on the strength of a great performance by the bench.

Darren Collison, Vince Carter, Elton Brand, Chris Kaman, Jae Crowder and Bernard James combined for 45 points. Mike James paced the Mavs with 19 points, Dirk Nowitzki added 17, Shawn Marion scored 15 and O.J. Mayo chipped in 10.

The Mavericks bolstered their bench for the stretch run with the signing of Justin Dentmon to a 10-day contract. He was the D-League MVP last season and averaged 26.0 ppg in 22 games since being traded to the Texas Legends of the D-League.

But next up in the quest for the postseason, is the Clippers, a team that has already punched a ticket for the playoffs.

"From top to bottom, they're as athletic a team and as talented a team as you're going to find in this league," Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle said of the Clippers. "You know, Chris Paul is the best point guard in basketball in my opinion and there's some other guys that are really good, too. But, you know, the game comes down to our ability to mitigate some of their paint activity and keep him out of there, keep him from lobbing the ball and keep them from getting a lot of second shots."

The Clippers are tied for third place in the Western Conference with the Denver Nuggets. L.A. has won two in a row and three of its last four, but the Clips embark on a four-game road trip through the south starting on Tuesday.

"Everyone is vying for position right now," Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. "We've got four in five nights. There are no easy games, but we're trying to play as well as possible and put ourselves in position to win as many as we can, if not all of them. And that's how we look at it. It's up to us to come up with good energy at the start of a long road trip and battle through things and just stay together."

The Clippers closed out their homestand with back-to-back wins over the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets. Against the Nets, the Clips finished off a 31-20 fourth quarter for the win.

Chris Paul had 29 points and 11 assists in the victory.

Chauncey Billups is listed as questionable for Tuesday's contest.

The Clippers have won both of this season's matchups, both of which were in Los Angeles. The Clippers have lost 13 of their last 15 in Big D.