It’s no longer fair to mention the Mavericks and playoffs in the same breath.

They know it, too.

“I said that all the last couple weeks,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “(We have been) losing home games and games to East Coast teams that you have to win if you want to be in the playoffs. We haven’t shown consistently we can win big games. We had a nice win at Brooklyn and we can’t follow it up.

“Just never consistent enough to really be a playoff threat. But we got to fight.”

The Mavericks didn’t do that in the second half against the Rockets, who simply overmatched them.

“I understand what works for us,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “And that’s staying in the present and going out there fighting hard and we fought hard in the first half. In the third quarter, we didn’t fight hard enough. That was the difference in the game. The third quarter was ugly. I don’t have an explanation for it other than they picked their game up and we didn’t. You got to step up to the challenge and we just didn’t do it.”

After Sunday, it’s hard to work up much enthusiasm for the Mavericks’ chances the rest of this season. Realistically, they needed a sweep of these two games against the Rockets to maintain any shot at the playoffs.

“They definitely kicked our ass tonight,” O.J. Mayo said. “Obviously, if you’re a competitor, you want to come into practice and get after it. We’re lucky to get the team that kicked our ass again on Wednesday night.”

The Mavericks went 1-2 on this odd trip, losing at Memphis before winning against Brooklyn. Against the Rockets, they were never in it after halftime.