Dirk Nowitzki registered 25 points and seven rebounds, leading the Dallas Mavericks to a 104-100 win over the New Orleans Hornets on Friday.
Nowitzki was 10-of-17 from the field for the Mavericks, who have won three straight games. Vince Carter recorded 22 points and nine rebounds off the bench and Elton Brand added 13 points.
"It was as big as it gets," said Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle. "Down four with a minute to go, the great thing was no one ever wavered or lost belief. The guys kept battling."
Eric Gordon and Jason Smith scored 23 and 22 points, respectively, for the Hornets, who have lost three straight games. Ryan Anderson recorded a double- double with 20 points and 12 rebounds, as did Anthony Davis, who had 10 points and 11 rebounds.
"Any time you lose a game you feel bad, but any time you lose a game that way because of your mistakes, its worse," said Hornets head coach Monty Williams. "They hit some tough shots, but a lot of it was defensive breakdowns."
Davis left the game in the third quarter with a sprained right knee. He would return to the bench in the fourth and was available to return, but stayed on the bench for the remainder of the game.
"I came down on it and it started hurting, and I came to the back," said Davis. "It's a sprained knee, whatever they told you that's what it was. I was prepared to play if they needed me. It's fine"
Tied at 94-94 with 4:43 remaining in regulation, Smith made a free throw and followed it up with a 14-foot jumper to give the Hornets a 97-94 edge.
With less than three minutes left, Nowitzki made a jumper to get Dallas within one, 97-96. However, Anderson made a 3-pointer to give the Hornets a 100-96 advantage.
After a Mavericks timeout, Mike James answered back with a 3-pointer of his own to get Dallas within one again, 100-99, with 42 seconds to go.
Greivis Vasquez missed a 15-foot jumper on the ensuing New Orleans possession, and Nowitzki came down with the defensive rebound.
With six seconds remaining, Carter made a 3-pointer to give the Mavericks the lead, 102-100.
"I just tried to read the situation, see if a guy was open and try to find somebody," said Carter. "He was backing up in the retreat position. You can't be afraid to shoot it. If you feel confident in your shot, go ahead and shoot it. I know when it feels good. I've been around. I've been in many situations where I've taken the game winning shot and missed it. I've been in situations where I've hit big shots for our team. I've never been afraid to take a big shot and deal with the consequences either way. In that situation, I feel comfortable."
Darren Collison then drew a foul on Vasquez and made both of his free throws with three seconds left to put the game out of reach.
Down 58-53 after the first half, the Mavericks opened up the third quarter with a 6-0 run, capped off by a 3-pointer by Nowitzki to take a 59-58 lead with 10 1/2 minutes left.
Smith took back the lead for the Hornets with a 17-footer before Nowitzki made a layup to give Dallas a 61-60 edge with 8:49 remaining.
However, a three-point play by Gordon started a 7-0 run for New Orleans to take a 67-61 lead with just under seven minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Dallas responded with a 11-4 run of their own, capped off by a dunk by Shawn Marion, and regained the lead, 72-71, with 3:46 remaining.
Al-Farouq Aminu made a free throw to tie the game, but Dallas held an 83-79 advantage entering the fourth.
Carter was 5-of-7 from behind the arc ... Dallas has scored 100-plus points in 16 of its last 18 games.