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NEW ORLEANS – As much as Dirk Nowitzki struggled to get up accurate shots with Anthony Davis' hand in his face, the Dallas Mavericks' veteran still found a way to come through in the clutch.
Nowitzki's knack for producing when it mattered was mirrored by the Mavericks, who squandered a 17-point lead and trailed by four points early in the fourth quarter before regaining the poise they needed to close out a hard-earned 109-104 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night.
"Sometimes you've just got to stop the bleeding somehow, refocus and that's what we did," Nowitzki said. "I love how we fight for each other."
Chandler Parsons scored 20 points, highlighted by a deep 3 to put the Mavericks up 101-96 in the middle of the fourth quarter en route to their second-straight victory. Nowitzki scored 17 despite foul trouble, capped by his 12-foot fade away over Davis that gave Dallas a 109-103 lead with 49 seconds left. Monta Ellis also scored 17 for Dallas, including a jumper and reverse layup late in the third that seemed to halt New Orleans' momentum.
"We've got an experienced team. A lot of us have been in these situations before and we understand that teams aren't just going to give up," Parsons said. "I'm glad for the way we kept fighting."
Davis had 31 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks for New Orleans. Tyreke Evans added 22 points and 10 rebounds, and Jrue Holiday scored 24 for New Orleans.
"We could have had that game," Davis said. "We had the lead in the fourth. ... We have to make sure we execute and focus."
Tyson Chandler, who had to contend with Davis and 7-footer Omer Asik, still managed 11 points, seven rebounds and two blocks for Dallas. Devin Harris and Brandan Wright each added 12 points for the Mavericks, who outshot New Orleans 51.7 percent (46 of 89) to 42.7 percent (38 of 89) and outscored the Pelicans in the paint, 62-46.
After giving up 66 points in the first half, New Orleans buckled down defensively to start the third quarter, which Dallas began by missing seven of 10 shots and turning the ball over four times.
The Pelicans quickly erased a double-digit deficit with a 15-0 run that began when Davis' steal led to Asik's dunk. Davis added four free throws, a 20-foot jumper, three rebounds and a block of Parsons' 3-point attempt during the spurt, the last of those highlights leading to Holiday's 3 that gave New Orleans a 75-72 lead.
The Mavs took their first 10-point lead just seven minutes in. The lead grew to 17 late in the second quarter on Wright's alley-oop dunk of Nelson's lob. But Evans responded with a 3 to make it 66-52 at halftime.
"In the first half, we didn't have the pace and the energy that we needed to come out with," Davis said.
Mavericks: Former Pelicans forward Al-Farouq Aminu faced his previous team for the first time as a member of the Mavericks. He played 16 minutes and two points and five rebounds. .... Chandler was called for a technical foul by Lauren Holtkamp for contesting a foul call on the Dallas defensive end in the first half.
Pelicans: With 4:02 left in the first quarter, Davis stepped on Aminu's foot under the basket and rolled his left ankle. He remained down on the court for a couple minutes before limping to the bench during a timeout. However, he returned to the court to the relief of the applauding crowd when play resumed. ... Evans drew a technical foul for hanging on the rim after a break-away dunk.
THIRD QUARTER CONCERNS
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle and numerous players expressed concern over three straight third-quarter lapses.
"We've definitely got to solve some of the issues we've had in the third quarter," Nowitzki said. "I guess it's normal for humans to relax a little bit when they have a lead, so we've got to address that."
While Pelicans coach Monty Williams lamented the Pelicans' seven turnovers in the fourth quarter, the Mavericks were gratified by how they caused three of those by drawing charges.
"We made a couple stands there, stuck in there and gave up our bodies," said Nowitzki, who drew one of the charges but seemed hesitant to take credit. "I think I couldn't get out of the way quick enough. That's how that happened."
Dallas: Hosts Boston on Monday night.
New Orleans: Plays at Memphis on Monday night.