dirk nowitzki

Mathematically, they remain alive. But after the Los Angeles Lakers controlled them all night for a 101-81 victory, the Mavericks must face the grim reality that their playoff hopes bit the dust at Staples Center.

“We knew we were behind the 8-ball all season,” said Dirk Nowitzki. “This was a game we needed to have if we really wanted to make it interesting.”

The Mavericks fell behind by 16 points in the second quarter and never made it up. Their fight was commendable, but their execution and talent level simply wasn’t equal to the Lakers, who rode Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Earl Clark to the win.

The Mavericks lost the season series to the Lakers 3-1 and fell to 36-38, 2 ½ games behind the Lakers and Utah Jazz, who are tied for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

– Reported by Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News