Mavericks guard O.J. Mayo strips the ball from Lakers guard Kobe Bryant… (Tony Gutierrez / Associated…)
The Dallas Mavericks held on to beat the Clippers, 109-102, in overtime Tuesday night, pulling to within one game of the eighth-place Lakers.
The Utah Jazz and Mavericks are tied in the standings at 35-36. Utah has always been a threat to the Lakers (36-35) but now Dallas is now a very real concern.
If the Mavericks win at Staples Center on April 2, they may have the upper hand. In that case, the tiebreaker would go to the team with the best conference record -- a dead heat between the two franchises.
Dallas is set to play a pair of home games against the Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls, two Eastern Conference playoff teams (currently battling through injuries).
After the visit to the Lakers, the Mavericks head to Denver and Sacramento on back-to-back nights -- followed by a trip to Portland.
Dallas plays four of its final five at home against the Phoenix Suns, Nuggets, Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Hornets. The Mavericks will also be in New Orleans the night before they host the Grizzlies.
Six of their opponents have records above .500 -- five are below. Dallas has five on the road and two sets of back-to-backs.
The Lakers also have five away games left with two back-to-back sets. Five are against opponents with winning records -- six losing.
April 2 may be the decider.
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Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.