DALLAS – For the first time in a dozen years, the Dallas Mavericks won’t participate in the playoffs.
The Mavs’ 12-year streak was snapped Wednesday night when they were officially eliminated due to their home loss to the lowly Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Lakers’ late road win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
“I mean, it didn’t look good for two or three weeks, so it’s not like I had unbelievably high hopes for it,” said Dirk Nowitzki, the lone player on the Mavs’ roster for the entire streak that featured two trips to the NBA Finals, including the 2010-11 championship season. “It’s not like my hopes were crushed tonight.”
The Mavs had not been officially eliminated yet when Nowitzki spoke to the media what he termed “just a terrible, terrible, disappointing loss,” which snapped the Suns’ 10-game losing streak. However, Nowitzki had come to terms with the inevitability of the Mavs being postseason spectators for the first time since 1999-2000, when Mark Cuban bought the team in the middle of the season.
It was the second longest active playoff streak in the NBA, trailing only the San Antonio Spurs, who have qualified for their 16th straight postseason trip.
“I’m not focused on that,” said Rick Carlisle, who is in his fifth season as Dallas’ head coach. “Really, in this job, in this business, you’ve got to focus on each hour of the day putting forth your best to try to help your team do their best. We all came up short tonight. I’m at the top of the list.”
The Mavs had their streak of 11 consecutive 50-win campaigns -- the third longest such run in NBA history -- snapped last season after Tyson Chandler and other key contributors to the franchise’s first title team left in free agency. At 38-40, the Mavs are in jeopardy of finishing under .500 for the first time since their previous non-playoff season.
“I’m not quitting on this team,” sixth man Vince Carter said. “I’m going to still approach it and play hard and fight hard and foul hard. Whatever you need me to do, I’m going to do it, just to continue the mentality here and just to let everybody know, we’ve been around -- a lot of these older guys have been around -- and there’s no quit in us.
“It’s unfortunate we are in this position, and it sucks, but I don’t want the quitting mentality to even be talked about around here at all.”