With the playoffs, and the No. 7 seed locked up, the Dallas Mavericks knew they didn't have much left to play for, other than pride.
Try telling that to Dirk Nowitzki, who showed he still has a lot left in the tank for this playoff journey the Mavericks are about to go on. Dirk scored 19 points and his top-of-the-key 3-pointer with 23 seconds left propelled Dallas to a 107-104 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night.
The Suns took the first three games of the season series over Dallas earlier this year, and the last game even saw Monta Ellis have his worst game of the year. Ellis had a team-high 20 points on 10-of-21 shooting.
And also in those three games, the Mavericks were outrebounded each time. Phoenix's size and frontcourt depth made was a huge problem for Dallas, especially on the offensive end. Dallas outrebounded the Suns 45-37 and 23 of those rebounds came from Tyson Chandler.
Yes, that is a two with a three. It's been awhile since Chandler posted a game like this, and it was much needed for Dallas heading into the home stretch of the regular season.
All night long, though, the Mavs had to deal with Gerald Green and his quest for revenge on Rick Carlisle. The one-time Maverick scored a game-high 30 points and made five 3-pointers. The Suns had five in double figures, including 19 points from Markieff Morris.
But it was an even game throughout the entire night. The Suns' biggest lead was only seven points, while the Mavericks didn't lead by any more than four. Dallas had six players score in double figures without the services of Chandler Parsons, who was out once again with a bruised right knee.
The Mavericks shot 48 percent from the floor, but only went 3-of-17 from 3-point range before Dirk's dagger with less than 30 seconds to go. Phoenix got multiple chances to tie the game after Nowitzki split a pair at the free throw line with 16 seconds left, but couldn't connect.
Phoenix also got one more chance after Dallas couldn't inbound the ball cleanly, but Markieff Morris' potential game-tying 3 came up well short, officially eliminating the Suns from playoff contention.
Thanks to the New Orleans Pelicans getting manhandled by the Memphis Grizzlies tonight, the Mavericks clinched the No. 7 seed in this year's playoffs. So, officially, Dallas has nothing left to play for this year. All they need to do is watch who they're going to be playing. And if you've looked at the updated Western Conference standings, there's no clear-cut favorite for the two seed.
Regardless if they needed the win or not, the Mavs finally got over the hump and beat a team that emphatically beat them three times this year. Next up for Dallas is a road game on Friday against the Denver Nuggets.