Mavs Dropped In Utah; Playoff-Picture Update

'We had guys out, but I’m not worried at all,' Rondo said after the stripped-down Mavs registered a Game-81 loss at Utah. 'It’s getting closer, but we have one more game to sharpen some things up.' To the sharpening!

With the regular-season road schedule finally coming to an end Monday night in Salt Lake City, the Dallas Mavericks (49-32) decided to err on the side of caution. The Mavs rolled out a starting lineup that included Charlie Villanueva, Raymond Felton and Amar’e Stoudemire and a rotation that included the end-of-benchers in their 109-92 loss to the young Utah Jazz. ... a loss that keeps Dallas at 49-32 with one game to play.

The Jazz weren’t at full strength either, however. Utah trotted out a lineup that saw three of its top players absent as well. Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Trey Burke were all sidelined.

“We’ve played a lot of games this year without multiple starters and won some, and they were doing the same thing,'' "Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said after the loss. "It’s not easy, but you’ve got to find a way. We didn’t do that.''

For Dallas, Monday night wasn’t really about victory or defeat, though. Monday’s game was about resting its horses in preparation for what seems like an inevitable matchup with the archrival San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs. Now, elsewhere Monday there was some more NBA clarity there ...

The Grizzlies' 111-107 loss at at No. 1 Golden State dropped them from contention for the West's No. 2 seed. The Spurs can lock up the No. 2 seed by beating the Pelicans on Wednesday. The Rockets can win it if they beat the Jazz on Wednesday AND the Spurs lose to the Pelicans. (As a Mavs fan, that's the scenario you are rooting for). The Clippers will take the No. 2 seed if they win their regular-season finale against the Suns on Tuesday and the Spurs and Rockets both lose the following night.

The Spurs can still tumble all the way to the No. 6 seed if they lose to the Pelicans, and the Rockets, Clippers and Grizzlies all win their final games. It is worth noting that the Pels will be playing for No. 8 -- win and they're in, with control that competitor OKC does not have.

But none of that is within Dallas' control now. As we speculated would be the case over the weekend, the Mavs opted to not only rest stars Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler and Monta Ellis -- they shipped them home from LA without even a stop in Utah.

And, as we noted before the game in LA while watching the in-house FOX Sports Southwest feed, there is a Chandler Parsons issue. CP, who made his last start against Houston on April 2, was held out again Monday as what can be called a "precaution'' but ... Well, Parsons has now missed his fifth consecutive start with a knee injury. However, there is a new development here from feeling a hitch in his git-along in Sunday warmups in LA. No longer is Parsons much of a candidate to participate in a "tune-up'' Wednesday against the visiting Blazers. Instead, he and the Mavs are only concerned about his availability for the playoffs. ... and do harbor some concern there.

“It’s just not making the progress I hoped it would,'' Parsons said.

Despite the Mavs' best efforts to avoid injury in Utah, Devin Harris left the game in the second quarter with an apparent left toe injury. Harris was held out for the rest of the game, but fortunately for the Mavs, X-rays on the toe were negative. He'll visit the doctor today.

“It’s pretty swollen,” Harris said. “It’s still pretty sore, but it should be ready to go by at least the weekend.”

J.J Barea led the way for Dallas offensively with 18 points, while Amar’e dropped in 15 points and pulled down three rebounds. Al-Farouq Aminu made his presence felt once again, adding 10 points and grabbing 10 boards en route to his second straight double-double.


Rajon Rondo meanwhile, is finally beginning to look like the player the Mavs envisioned when they traded for him back in December. Rondo’s play has been much improved over the last four games in which he has averaged 12 points and seven assists to just two turnovers on 51-percent shooting.

With one final task in the regular-season schedule, Dallas would like nothing more than to escape Wednesday night’s home finale against the Trailblazers with nothing of note for to report. ... outside of achieving 50 wins.

“We had guys out tonight, but I’m not worried at all,” Rondo said. “It’s getting closer, but we have one more game to sharpen some things up.”

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