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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, April 3rd (All times Eastern)

Dallas Mavericks (44-31) at Los Angeles Clippers (54-22), 10:30 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Los Angeles Clippers clinched the Pacific Division last time out, but now they can improve their standing in the Western Conference starting Thursday night when they host the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center.

The Clips won their second straight Pacific title on Wednesday night with a comeback victory on the road over the Phoenix Suns. LA prevailed, 112-108, but wasn't in a celebratory mood.

"It's nice. But it doesn't really say much. We won the division title last year and lost in the first round," All-Star guard Chris Paul said.

The Clippers are just 1 1/2 behind the Oklahoma City Thunder for the second seed in the Western Conference. They are 5 1/2 outside the San Antonio Spurs for the best record, but that's going to be tough sledding with just six games to go.

Paul scored 20 points, handed out nine assists and knocked down a go-ahead 3- pointer down the stretch as the Clippers erased a 17-point deficit in the third quarter.

Blake Griffin, who missed LA's last game with a back injury, and Darren Collison both netted 23 points and Matt Barnes chipped in with 19 for LA, which doubled up Phoenix, 34-17, in the fourth. Jared Dudley scored 12 off the bench and DeAndre Jordan only managed four points, but pulled down 11 rebounds.

The Clippers begin a five-game homestand against the Mavs, Lakers, Thunder, Sacramento Kings and Denver Nuggets. LA finishes the season in Portland against the Blazers. Doc Rivers' group has won eight straight as the host.

The Mavs are in a fight to make the postseason. They are tied with the Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies for the seventh seed and Dallas doesn't have the easiest schedule in the league. On Thursday, the Mavericks begin a four-game western swing with matchups versus the Clips, Lakers, Kings and Jazz.

They close the season in Memphis in what could be a winner goes to the postseason scenario.

Dallas has alternated wins and losses over its last eight games and the last time out was a setback. The Mavs completed a franchise-record eight-game homestand with a 122-120 overtime loss to the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday.

Stephen Curry's stepback jumper with 0.1 seconds left in overtime lifted the Warriors to victory.

Jose Calderon nailed a 3-pointer to give the Mavs a 120-118 cushion with 42.9 seconds left in the extra session and Jermaine O'Neal answered at the other end with a slam to tie it up.

O'Neal then came up with a block on the defensive side of the floor when Monta Ellis drove the lane with 13.9 seconds left. The league announced on Wednesday that the block should've been called goaltending.

Curry brought the ball up the floor on the ensuing possession, shook Calderon and buried his third career game-winning jumper.

"It is not the first time he has made that," Calderon said of Curry. "He has been hitting those shots, he's a great player."

Dirk Nowitzki deposited a game-high 33 points with 11 rebounds and Ellis netted 27 points in the setback. Brandan Wright chipped in 14, followed by 12 from Vince Carter and 10 out of Devin Harris.

The Clippers have swept all three meetings this season against the Mavs and have won seven of the last nine matchups. Dallas has lost four straight on the road in this series.

04/03 10:24:19 ET

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