Clippers-Mavericks Preview

Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks continue to fight for their playoff lives.

They’re surely preparing for another tough battle against the Pacific Division leaders.

The Mavericks try to pick up a rare win over the visiting Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night.

Dallas (43-29) has won five of seven after getting past Oklahoma City 128-119 in overtime Tuesday. Nowitzki led the way with 32 points and 10 rebounds, posting his second 30-point effort this month.

"His emotion and his attitude carried the team. He’s a prideful guy. I think great players are great for a reason," coach Rick Carlisle said of Nowitzki. "Obviously, we need the win. I’m just real proud of the way the guys battled the whole way through it."

The Mavericks, who have seen three of their last four games go to OT, are tied with Phoenix for eighth place in the Western Conference.

"I don’t know if we should be thinking too much ahead, I think we got a tough 10 games left," said Jose Calderon, whose 22 points were one off his season high. "For right now, we’re just thinking next game. It’s another big game for us, and we just got to keep working."

Dallas now tries to solve the Clippers, who have taken six of eight in the series, including both meetings this season behind remarkable fourth-quarter comebacks. Los Angeles outscored the Mavericks 16-2 over the final 3:51 in a 119-112 road win Jan. 3, then erased a 17-point deficit with 4 1/2 minutes to go in a 129-127 victory Jan. 15.

"It was like a playoff game the last three or four minutes. Everybody was mouthing back and forth and getting techs, and it became a brawl out there," Mavericks forward Shawn Marion said afterward. "But if you let that take away from what your main focus is – executing at both ends of the floor – then it’s going to take you out of your game."

The Clippers (50-22) had won 13 of 14 before opening a five-game road trip with Wednesday’s 98-96 loss at New Orleans. Jamal Crawford scored 31 points off the bench but missed a couple late 3s, including one as time expired.

"We didn’t execute the play," coach Doc Rivers said of the final seconds. "If we had won, I would have taken it, but sometimes the basketball gods punish you for messing around and I though that’s what we did."

Chris Paul dished out 12 assists, but he was held to two points while shooting a career-worst 0 of 12.

"From here on out its just about winning. If I go 0 for 15 or 0 for 20 and we win, I could care less," said Paul, whose team sits 5 1/2 games ahead of Golden State for first place in the Pacific. "Like I’ve said in the past it’s more than this game. It’s about playing the right way going into the playoffs."

Los Angeles shot 41.3 percent against the Pelicans, dropping to 0-11 when it’s below 42.0 percent.

"There is a little bit of concern, just our sense of urgency," said Blake Griffin, who has scored at least 20 points in a career-high 30 straight games. "But at the same time this is the NBA, and the best thing about that is that you get another chance to prove yourself."

The Clippers are 4-8 when closing back-to-backs on the road. They are averaging 102.4 points in those games, 5.0 less than their season mark.