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Mavs have 'a little mountain to climb'

DALLAS – How many games do the Mavs need to win after the All-Star break to make the playoffs?

“Thirty,” point guard Darren Collison said.

That just happens to be the number of games remaining on the Mavs’ schedule. Collison’s point isn’t that the Mavs need to be perfect the rest of the season – just that their focus should be on winning as many games as possible instead of checking the standings and crunching numbers.

It doesn’t do the Mavs any good to figure out that they need to go 18-12 to get back to .500. Nor does it do them any good to know that they’d need to go 20-10 to hit 43 wins, which would put them on pace to pull even with the eighth-place Houston Rockets.

And they certainly don’t need to be pondering the strength of their schedule, the NBA’s seventh-toughest for the rest of the season despite starting with the lottery-bound Orlando Magic and New Orleans Hornets.

The 23-29 Mavs know they’re 4 ½ games behind Houston and a game behind the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Lakers, which means they better win a bunch.

“We’ve got a little mountain to climb,” Shawn Marion said. “That’s what it boils down to. It’s that simple.”