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DALLAS Little has changed since the Dallas Mavericks completed their six-game home stand on Saturday.

They remain a game-and-a-half out of the playoffs, only now they're chasing both Utah and Los Angeles for the 8th and final playoff spot.

"There is no need to overstate the obvious. We need to win every game," said Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle.

Dallas will play the Lakers in Los Angeles on Tuesday, a battle between two teams who are both out of the playoff picture right now. It's not the kind game Dirk Nowitzki envisioned when the season began.

"I was hoping it would be for a two or three seed... not for a nine," he said.

Thanks to a healthy Nowitzki, the Mavericks are playing some their best basketball of the year right now. He's averaging 20 points per game over the last 14, but they're still on the outside looking in.

"Yeah, I feel good, I m moving good," Nowitzki said. "I'm trying to take advantage of me feeling better, and hopefully we can make this push."

One of the things that keep the Mavericks going is the competitive nature of this team. As long as there is a chance to make the playoffs, no one is going to give up. That approach starts at the very top with team owner Mark Cuban.

"Mark being Mark, he's probably the biggest competitor I ve ever met. I mean, just to see the tweets with Donald Trump every day, their competition over Twitter... those two morons," Dirk said with a laugh.

In the meantime, the Mavericks who were 10 games below .500 on January 9 are trying to make one of the biggest comebacks in NBA history.

"From what I m told, no team has ever been 10 below .500 and made the playoffs," Carlisle said. "That's great motivation. We're trying to be the greatest comeback since Lazarus."

E-mail griba@wfaa.com

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