AP Sports Writer
DALLAS (AP) -- Dirk Nowitzki was a baby-faced kid barely old enough to drink the last time the Dallas Mavericks missed the playoffs.
Now he's a bearded veteran who can't shave because he and others vowed not to until the team got back to .500.
Dallas still has a shot at a break-even record, but will be watching the playoffs for the first time since 2000.
An unexpected loss to lowly Phoenix put the Mavericks on the brink of postseason elimination Wednesday night. The Los Angeles Lakers finished them off a couple of hours later by beating Portland.
Just two years removed from the franchise's first championship, the Mavericks simply never recovered from Nowitzki missing the first 27 games after the first knee surgery of his career.
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