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Mavs Escape Kings, But Best Improve at Crunch Time

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 3: Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks shoots the ball against the Los Angeles Clippers on April 3, 2014 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.

    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.