Nothing will halt a winning streak like a date with the San Antonio Spurs in their own building.
The Dallas Mavericks had won four in a row until Thursday's setback to the Spurs, but they will continue to push for that final playoff spot Friday when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Mavs trail the Los Angeles Lakers by three games for the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference. Playing without Shawn Marion for a fourth straight game, Dallas was 3-0 on its road trip until heading to its Texas neighbors.
Dallas lost to the Spurs 92-91 and had a chance at the end. Vince Carter's 3- pointer at the buzzer rimmed out and for the first time in 15 years, the Spurs swept the season series with the Mavericks.
"That's been kind of the model all year. We're right there and just can't get over the hump," said Dirk Nowitzki. "It's a tough loss. In this building, you're right there and you walk away with a L. ... That's a game we need to have to really make it close and make it a race, and we came up short."
Nowitzki led the way with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Darren Collison added 12 and O.J. Mayo, Mike James, Brandan Wright and Carter all scored 10 points apiece.
The Cavaliers, playing without All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, who is down with a sprained left shoulder, snapped a two-game losing streak Tuesday with a win at home over the Washington Wizards.
Cleveland used a great run in the second and third quarters to get past the Wizards. The Cavs outscored Washington, 56-32, in the middle two periods and held on for a 95-90 victory.
Rookie Dion Waiters paced the Cavaliers with 20 points against Washington. Alonzo Gee chipped in 17 and Tristan Thompson notched a double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds.
It's almost impossible to atone for the loss of a player like Irving, who is seventh in the NBA in scoring at 23.0 ppg. Head coach Byron Scott thinks it's a great chance for learning.
"I think it gives us a golden opportunity to continue to develop our team concept more than anything," Scott said after practice on Thursday. "Our young guys are young, but they're learning. They're getting better."
The Cavs stay in Texas for a matchup with the Spurs on Saturday night.
The Mavericks won this season's only battle with the Cavs, a 103-95 victory on Nov. 17 in Cleveland. The Cavaliers have lost nine of their last 11 in Big D.