“Even if we win (against the Lakers), it doesn’t mean we’re in,” Nowitzki said. “So we’re in a tough situation, but we’re sure as heck going to try.”
At least the Mavericks have Nowitzki in playoff form. He’s averaging 19.9 points per game since the All-Star break, when it was safe to say recovery from knee surgery was behind him, and he’s shooting 63 percent over his past eight games.
He’s had several vintage Nowitzki games in recent weeks — hitting big shots in fourth quarters — but even those at times have been illustrations of Dallas’ up-and-down season. Case in point: the last time the Mavericks played the Lakers. Nowitzki had probably his best game of the year to that point with a season-high 30, but Bryant was just a little better, getting 38 in the Lakers’ 103-99 win.
That was one of many days the Mavericks didn’t figure to have much hope to keep their playoff streak alive.
“We’re not perfect,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “In many ways we’ve embraced our imperfection. And I think in our situation that’s what you’ve got to do.”
Nowitzki still needs help, just as he did when the Mavericks won the title in 2011. Mayo was the go-to guy while Nowitzki sat to start the season, but it didn’t take long for teams to figure that out and make things hard on him.
Plus, Mayo’s never been the top option, so it’s really been a season-long struggle. He’s led the team in scoring just twice in the past 24 games, and now he’s battling a bum shoulder from a collision in last week’s win over the Los Angeles Clippers — the first for Dallas this season against the top four teams in the West standings at the time.