(SportsNetwork.com) - The Dallas Mavericks will have to play better basketball if they're going to make the playoffs and that starts Saturday night when they host the Sacramento Kings at American Airlines Center.
The Mavs have dropped three of their last five and have fallen outside the playoffs in the Western Conference. Dallas has slipped a half-game behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth and final spot in the postseason race.
Dallas is just 3-3 on this current franchise-record, eight-game homestand. The wins have been against the Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets and Oklahoma City Thunder, while the setbacks came versus the Minnesota Timberwolves, Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers.
On Thursday, Chris Paul torched the Mavs en route to LA's 109-103 victory.
Vince Carter paced Dallas with a season high-tying 23 points off the bench, while Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 points with nine rebounds in defeat. Monta Ellis scored 12 points on a paltry 4-for-19 shooting in the Mavericks' loss. Forward Jae Crowder shot a perfect 5-for-5 from the field for 13 points off the bench in 18 minutes of action.
Nowitzki, a 92 percent shooter from the free throw line, missed 2-of-3 from the stripe before Ellis knocked down a jumper to make it a 101-97 game with 1:46 to play. The Clippers would then end the game on a 12-2 run to secure the victory.
"We didn't get stops in the clutch," said Crowder. "Going into the fourth quarter, we didn't score the ball when the chance was given to us in the clutch so we came out on the bad end of it tonight."
The Kings lost their second in a row overall and third straight on the road Friday night when they fell at Chesapeake Energy Arena to the Oklahoma City Thunder, 94-81.
The Kings haven't won a road game against the Thunder franchise since beating the SuperSonics in Seattle on March 30, 2008.
Ben McLemore scored 18 to lead the Kings, who have lost eight of their last 11. Travis Outlaw added 17 points, Ray McCallum scored 13 and Jason Thompson had 10 points and 14 rebounds in the loss.
"Very disappointed with how we played the first and third quarters tonight. We're under manned, we don't have a lot of bodies so the guys who are able to play need to play with a greater sense of urgency and greater effort," said Kings coach Mike Malone.
They played without point guard Isaiah Thomas (quad contusion) for the second game in a row, but the Kings trailed by 31 after three quarters.
DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay struggled badly with four and seven points, respectively.
The two teams split two matchups this season with the home team prevailing each time. The Mavericks have won 19 straight regular-season games in Big D with Sacramento last winning in Dallas on Feb. 27, 2003.