Mavs burned by Suns, put out of misery

DALLAS -- If the Dallas Mavericks reach for their razors now, their wrists might be in serious danger.

This was supposed to be the night the Mavs finally shaved those ridiculously bushy .500 beards that represent how much a proud franchise’s standards have been lowered during this miserable season.

Instead, it ended up being the night that the Mavs buried their dozen-year playoff streak.

Technically, the Los Angeles Lakers shoveled the last dirt on the Mavs’ withered playoff hopes by winning in Portland late Wednesday night. But the Mavs have nobody but themselves to blame for being eliminated with a week remaining in the regular season.

Never mind for now what happened in the first 77 games of this frustrating season. Forget about the wouldas and couldas, such as owner Mark Cuban’s pregame suggestion that the Mavs might be a fifth or sixth seed if only Dirk Nowitzki didn’t miss a career-high 29 games this season.

The Mavs couldn’t beat the stinkin’ Suns!

Let that sink in for a moment. The Mavs let a terrible team that had lost 10 straight games, including one the previous night in Houston, punk them on their home court.

“There’s been a lot of terrible losses in our season,” Nowitzki said after the 102-91 spanking by the Suns. “This is one we had to have.”

This is one that appeared pretty much impossible for the Mavs not to win. After all, their foe was a fatigued team with the Western Conference’s worst record by far.

Nevertheless, coach Rick Carlisle declared Wednesday morning that anyone around these parts taking any games for granted is a “f------ idiot.”

So how the heck did the sorry Suns beat the Mavs by double digits?

“I guess we underestimated them and they came in here and got a win,” said Shawn Marion, who joins Nowitzki as the lone players left from the 2011 title team on the Mavs’ active roster.

Added Vince Carter: “I think we just took their record, their streak for granted, if you ask me. We just can’t do that.”

For more than a decade, Mavs fans could take a playoff berth for granted. They definitely can’t do that anymore, not as the front office prepares for another major offseason overhaul after the first full season of the Mark Cuban era that will end before the first round.

The Mavs knew it’d take a miracle to make the playoffs once they lost to the Lakers in Los Angeles last week. As Nowitzki said, it’s not like the Mavs’ hopes were crushed Wednesday night.

They were just humiliated in front of a home crowd announced as a sellout. (Hey, at least the sellout streak continues! It’s at 470 games and counting, the longest active sellout streak in pro sports after the Boston Red Sox didn’t fill Fenway Park on Wednesday for the first time since 2003.)

This was the third time over the last two weeks that the Mavs had a chance to finally reach .500. Call it the Curse of Omar the Barber if you want, but the Mavs have been blown out each time.

The Pacers won by 25, the Lakers by 20 and the Suns by 11. An eternal optimist might consider that progress, but it’s pretty pathetic.

“I view these one game at a time,” Carlisle said. “I’ve been around this too long and been humbled too many times to be looking ahead or be thinking in terms of the mountain of getting to .500. That’s not what anybody’s about around here.

“This was about winning one game and then getting ready for the next game. We had a disappointing night.”

It’s yet another disappointing night in a dreadful season by the standards of a franchise accustomed to 50-win campaigns.

“Had another great opportunity tonight to do something special,” said Mike James, the journeyman midseason addition who has been the Mavs’ starting point guard for the past month. “We’ve just got to fall off the horse, regroup and get back on it.”

If that horse is the Mavs’ season, its death certificate was signed late Wednesday night.

Of course, the Mavs might not even be able to beat a dead horse. Heck, they couldn’t even beat the sorry Suns, which is such a sad way to see a spectacular streak die.