April 04, 2014

Dallas coach Rick Carlisle wishes he had Doc Rivers' luxury of resting multiple players with the Los Angeles Clippers locked into their playoff spot.

The Mavericks still have work left in order to secure a postseason berth, and an injury to J.J. Barea might leave them even more shorthanded.

It's unclear who will be on the floor for either side Sunday as Dallas looks to wrap up a 15th playoff appearance in 16 seasons against the Clippers at Staples Center.

Chandler Parsons is out for the season after right knee surgery and Deron Williams has missed eight straight with a sports hernia, leaving the Mavericks (41-38) in rough shape with the playoffs approaching.

They've overcome those issues to win a season-high six straight, though, with 37-year-old Dirk Nowitzki playing in 28 of the last 29. He scored 21 points in Friday's 103-93 victory over Memphis to help Dallas come within a victory or a Houston loss of securing a playoff berth. The Rockets host the Lakers at the same time Sunday.

Barea averaged 25.8 points over the previous four, but he left midway through the first quarter with a right groin strain. He returned later before leaving for good, and his status is in doubt for this contest.

"We are going to figure it out," Carlisle said. "That's all I can tell you. When you lose guys, you lose versatility. We are going to have to be resourceful."

Raymond Felton stepped up in Barea's absence and finished with 11 points and a season-high 14 assists, and rookie Justin Anderson scored a career-high 19 with 10 rebounds.

Felton would get the start against the Clippers (51-28) if Barea can't go. Williams likely will sit out the final three in hopes of being healthy for the playoffs.

"My shots weren't necessarily falling, but at the same time I was getting into the paint, getting shots for other guys and just being aggressive," Felton said. "Sometimes that's all it takes."

It took Jamal Crawford's 3-pointer with 0.2 seconds left in overtime for Los Angeles to beat Utah 102-99 on Friday as Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and J.J. Redick rested. Wesley Johnson sat out with plantar fasciitis and Austin Rivers also didn't play because of a sore ankle.

Doc Rivers made it clear he plans to give his players as much of a break as possible with the Clippers having already secured home advantage in the first round with the Western Conference's fourth seed.

Crawford, a front-runner for Sixth Man of the Year, made his ninth start in the last two seasons and finished with 30 points, and Cole Aldrich had season highs of 21 points and 18 points while adding a career-high five steals.

Jeff Green had 18 points, while Pablo Prigioni finished with 13, seven rebounds and seven assists as nine players dressed.

"We have all the confidence in the world with our second group," Aldrich said. "We moved the ball and we had a bunch of guys out. We could have just said, 'You know what? We got six guys out. Let's just get through this one and get home.'

"We fought hard. That's a big thing for our group - getting through those tough times."

The Clippers finish with a back-to-back set against Memphis on Tuesday at home - a possible first-round preview - and at Phoenix on Wednesday. Rivers hasn't announced how he will handle his lineup.

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