- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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It seems like the Mavericks hit a new dozen-year low on a daily basis.
It happened again Wednesday night despite a spirited fight against the team with the NBA’s best record. The Mavs’ 99-93 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers dropped the Mavs to 10 games below .500 for the first time since March 30, 2000, the last season the franchise failed to make the playoffs.
The Mavs are 13-23 after losing 10 of their last 11 games and 13 of their last 15. They head to Sacramento for the butt end of a back-to-back staring up at the lowly Kings in the West standings.
It’d take an absolute miracle for the Mavs 12-year playoff streak to be extended. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no West team has qualified for the playoffs after being 10 games below .500 at any point of the season in at least 15 years.
“We’re going to keep digging,” point guard Darren Collison told reporters after leading the Mavs with 22 points. “It’s early on in the season. We’re going to keep a positive mindset. I tell you one thing: Once we get this rolling, we turn this thing over, I don’t think there’s no looking back for us.”
It’s early in the season, but it looks like it’s too late for the Mavs.
A few more quick notes from the Mavs’ loss in L.A.:
1. Fourth-quarter failure: The Mavs managed to build a double-digit lead in the third quarter and it lasted all of 3:15. The Clippers closed the third strong and outscored the Mavs 27-18 in the final frame to claim the win.
That’s the continuation of a troubling trend for the Mavs, who have been miserable closing games. It’s been especially painful lately, with the Mavs leading entering the fourth quarter in the last three games and losing each time.
“It just seems like the same story I keep telling you guys over and over,” said Collison, who didn’t score any of his 22 points in the fourth quarter. “We’re right there, making the same mistakes. We’re all hurting, too. We’re feeling the same pain after every game.”
The most painful moments down the stretch in this loss were a couple of offensive rebounds by ex-Mav Caron Butler on one late possession. The Clippers didn’t score, but the extra possessions basically served like a couple of first downs for a football team protecting a two-score lead.
“Down the stretch, you’ve got to get a rebound,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “You can’t give up two offensive rebounds when you get a good stop.”
2. CP3 special: Sometimes you’ve just got to give the other guy credit. Clippers point guard Chris Paul showed why he’s a leading MVP candidate with a 19-point, 16-assist performance.
Paul took over the game in the fourth quarter, scoring six points and dishing out six assists.
"They've got the best leader to me right now in the league," Nowitzki said. "Chris Paul can turn it up anytime he wants. He can take games over.”
3. Look at Lam Lam: Lamar Odom’s line (four points, two rebounds, three assists, five fouls, one steal) doesn’t look very impressive, but one of the biggest dogs in Dallas sports history continued to help the Clippers.
Odom was a key part of the Clippers’ closing unit, doing a respectable job defending Dirk down the stretch. L.A. was plus-8 in his 27 minutes. L.A. is plus-191 in Odom’s 671 minutes this season despite him being in awful shape for the first month or so.