The Dallas Mavericks continure to frustrate their fans and likely their opponents; they still not really there, but they still won't go away.
Despite not being able to get any closer, the Mavericks have stayed in the range of within three games of the West's final playoff spot for much of the second half.
The Mavs dropped to four back after Sunday's loss at home to Oklahoma City, 107-101, despite having won four of five going into the game.
Dallas was simply unable to stop Kevin Durant, who had 19 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter. And he wasn't even the Thunder's leading scorer, as Russel Westbrook had 35 for OKC.
Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavs with 23 as Rick Carlisle continued to shuffle his lineup, putting Mike James and Elton Brand in the starting lineup. The moves only reflect the disappointment of the season so far, with the under-performance of the likes of Chris Kaman and Darren Collison.
But Collison and Kaman did come back the next night to show some of what the Mavs hoped they would bring regularly as the Mavs dominated the Atlanta Hawks 127-113. Dallas never let up in the game, as they just missed scoring 30 in every quarter, finishing the fourth with 29.
Collison led the Mavs with 24 points off the bench, while Kaman was moved back into the starting lineup and contributed 14 points and 7 rebounds.
Carlisle still likely wasn't happy with their defensive effort, as Atlanta shot 56 percent for the game. But Dallas' 57 percent shooting still allowed them to build a 16 point lead in the fourth and never look back.
Still four games under .500 at 31-35, the Mavs have at least won four of their last five road games.
It should be an emotional night when the Mavs return to the American Airlines Center on Monday, when Deron Williams and the Brooklyn Nets come into town.