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Mavericks bring playoff game face

Dallas senses urgency in tight West, squeaks by scrappy Houston in overtime

Updated: March 25, 2012, 11:14 AM ET
By Tim MacMahon | ESPNDallas.com

HOUSTON -- For much of this far-from-regular season, the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks' mantra has been, just make the playoffs and try to peak at that point.

Maybe congratulations are in order.

The playoffs have started. Not officially, but in the Mavs' minds. If they want to be around when the real deal gets going, the Mavs better play like their life's on the line for the next month.

Coach Rick Carlisle emphasized that to his team in the Toyota Center visitors' locker ...

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