The Dallas Mavericks are fighting two teams for playoff seeding in the Western Conference. Fighting amongst themselves seemed to inspire a comeback that ended their losing streak.
The Mavericks (54-25) rallied from a 16-point deficit to defeat the Los Angeles Clippers 107-96 on Friday, ending a four-game skid. The comeback began after Jason Terry(notes) was benched early in the second quarter after ripping into fellow guard J.J. Barea(notes) during a timeout.
The Mavericks, who appeared energized by the incident, stayed within one game of the Lakers with three to play. They lead fourth-place Oklahoma City by one game, though both are guaranteed home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Coach Rick Carlisle called the argument an “internal matter” and said the result could end up benefiting Terry, who did not return Friday.
“Jet’s a very important guy on our team,” Carlisle said. “I was considering giving him a night off going forward, so this is the night off.”
“We haven’t played well, lost some games, had some injuries, Kidd’s resting, so it’s all piling up a little bit,” Nowitzki said. “Maybe this is the game we needed to get some stuff out and refocus.”
A matchup with struggling Phoenix may help as well.
The Mavericks have won all three meetings with the Suns (38-41), who have dropped seven of nine after a 109-79 defeat to New Orleans on Friday.
Phoenix shot 50.0 percent from the field, but allowed New Orleans to make 55.6 percent.
Phoenix, 1-6 without Nash in the lineup, will miss the playoffs for the second time in three seasons and needs to win its final three games to avoid finishing under .500 for the first time since 2003-04.
“Regardless of if we’re playing for something or not, we’ve got to go out there and compete,” said Vince Carter(notes), who scored 14 points off the bench against the Hornets. “We played early in quarters and we don’t finish.”
Dallas has won 10 of 13 against Phoenix, taking the most recent meeting 91-83 on March 27. Nowitzki scored 35 points in a 112-106 win Feb. 17.
Phoenix, closing a five-game road trip, hasn’t had much success in Dallas recently. The Mavericks have won six straight and 18 of 23 home matchups.