Nowitzki, Dallas End Utah’s Playoff Hopes
Dallas 111, Utah 95
DALLAS, April 16 (Ticker) -- The Dallas Mavericks have a slight chance to catch the San Antonio Spurs for the best record in the Western Conference. The Utah Jazz now have no chance to make the playoffs.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 22 points and the Mavericks tied a franchise record for wins in a season with a 111-95 victory over the Jazz. Dallas (60-21) remained 1 1/2 games behind San Antonio for the top seed and Southwest Division title. Utah (40-40) was eliminated from playoff contention.
"Unfortunately, San Antonio bettered us both 60 win seasons but that's how it goes and now we'll go for the playoffs."
After ending Utah's postseason hopes, Dallas now needs the Jazz to come up big Monday. Utah visits San Antonio on Monday night.
"I had said it would be a big disappointment if the team didn't make the playoffs," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "I'm not sure that we have enough guys that are hungry enough to want to be in the playoffs. The toughness to be able to get there sometimes doesn't show up. I take responsibility for that. That's my job to make them tougher or whatever it takes for them to be able to play."
The Mavs, who host the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, need win and two losses by the Spurs to claim home-court advantage. Dallas also won 60 games in 2003.
"Obviously we don't really have to play for anything other than keeping our rhythm for the playoffs," Nowitzki said.
"I don't even pay attention to that any more," said Josh Howard, who scored 18 points. "We're just going into the playoffs trying to get ourselves better. We want to keep playing great basketball like we've been doing and hopefully end up playing in June."
Nowitzki and Jason Terry scored 10 points apiece in the third quarter, when the Mavericks turned a 56-48 halftime edge into a 92-72 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
"We were aggressive on both ends of the floor," Nowitzki said. "On defense we got some good stops. Offensively, we drove the ball a lot and got to the foul line a lot which was great. We're a great foul shooting team. It was an all around good game."
"They outhustled us really," said Utah guard Deron Williams, who had 16 points and nine assists. "They just wanted the game more than us. It was a must win for us and we go out and don't really perform well. It's tough, frustrating and we can't make the playoffs now."
Jerry Stackhouse scored 20 points in just 26 minutes for Dallas, which has won 23 of its last 25 home games, including seven straight over the Jazz at American Airlines Center.
Carlos Boozer scored 21 points for Utah, which had a season high-tying five game winning streak snapped.