DeJuan Blair missed two free throws. Then Shawn Marion bricked a couple. Even Dirk Nowitzki rimmed one in and out.
Against a lot of NBA teams, the Mavs’ clutch failures Sunday night would’ve meant a loss. But in Sacramento, they still escaped with a victory. A huge victory.
The 93-91 win – sealed when the Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins air-balled a baseline jumper at the buzzer – allowed the Mavs to temporarily hang onto 7th place in the Western Conference race. At 47-31, they lead the Phoenix Suns by 0.5 game and the 9th-place Memphis Grizzlies by 1.5 games.
I said the Mavs needed to go 7-3 in the final 10 and hope for help in order to make the playoffs. Thanks to a 3-0 road trip punctuated by an unlikely win against the Clippers in L.A. Friday night, that goal remains attainable.
Dallas, 4-2 in its last six, finishes off the trip with what should be a layup victory in Utah against the West-worst Jazz Tuesday night. After that, it’s a crucial final three games against Spurs, Suns and Grizzlies.
The Mavs’ playoff fate may very well be tied to their 82nd game of the season – April 16 in Memphis.
In that game – and before then – they’d best make their crunch-time free throws. Missing five freebies in the fourth quarter will get the Mavs safely out of Sacramento, but not into the NBA Playoffs.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.