NBA Playoff Race: Warriors Beat Mavericks to Muddy Picture

K ShakranSenior Analyst IMarch 30, 2008

Golden State Warriors guard Kelenna Azibuike's three and critical jumper in the end of the fourth quarter extended the Maverick's dismal 0-10 record against teams with winning records.

Golden State built a 14-point lead in the third quarter but led by only four late in the fourth quarter. That's when Azubuike hit a 3-pointer from straightaway to make it 105-98 with less than 4 minutes left and waved his arms to the cheering crowd. He added a jumper to make it 109-100 with 2:27 to go and Golden State went on to its 17th comeback win from a double-digit deficit.

Baron Davis added 21 points, Stephen Jackson had 16 and Andris Biedrins had 16 points and 14 rebounds. Azubuike scored 15 off the bench a day after Davis and Jackson called for more help from the reserves

Josh Howard scored 36 to lead Dallas in his third straight 30-point game since Nowitzki went down with the injury. Brandon Bass added 21 off the bench, while Kidd had 13 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds.

The Denver Nuggets, Dallas Mavericks, and Golden State Warriors are now in a three-way tie for seventh place in the ultracompetitive Western Conference.

Dallas fell to 1-2 without Dirk Nowitzki, with the two losses coming to Denver and Golden State. 

The Denver Nuggets have been the only solid team out of the three competing teams to win both against Golden State and Dallas, which has increased their chances of capturing the seventh seed. 

Mavericks on the other hand are vulnerable to miss out on the post season, which would be one of the most upsetting scenes the league has seen in quite some time.

Watching the Mavericks play against Golden State and Denver revealed a lot about this team. Since the Jason Kidd trade, the team haven't embraced their true identity as opposed to the other two opposing teams.

The Warriors identity? Run and Gun, up-tempo style with scrappy defense.

The Nuggets identity? Iverson and Caremelo's extreme scoring combined with solid defense.

Mavericks identity after the Kidd trade? Not applicable, yet.

Coming back to the Bay Area tends to be a pleasant experience for Kidd, but as he lead the Dallas Mavericks onto the Oracle Arena floor tonight against the Warriors, he finds himself at one of the lowest points of his NBA career. Try as he might, he cannot lift this flawed and vulnerable team into the realm of the elite.

Jason Kidd has fit in well in Dallas, but the trade arrived at a seemingly off beam timing. If the Mavericks backed off the trade for a while, they could have been in better shape in the conference and not fighting for survival.

The next two-three weeks will reveal a great deal concerning the Western conference. For now, the spotlight falls on whether Dallas would edge their way into the playoffs or not.