Nowitzki carries Mavs past Pelicans 100-97

Dirk Nowitzki was not happy with his play or Dallas’ defense for

most of Wednesday night. He still found a way to end the New

Orleans Pelicans’ three-game winning streak.

Nowitzki scored 11 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter and

had the last of his season-high four blocked shots on a crucial

possession in the final minute as the Mavericks beat the Pelicans

100-97 at the start of a four-game road trip.

Nowitzki gave Dallas the lead with a free throw to make the

score 98-97 with 32.3 seconds left. He then got a piece of Eric

Gordon’s driving floater, grabbed the rebound and hit two more free

throws with 8 seconds left.

”It could have gone either way,” Nowitzki said. ”Finally, we

were on the other end one time in execution and getting some stops

and getting some big rebounds. It was definitely a good one to get

against a very good team.”

Nowitzki ran off a long list of negatives that could have cost

the Mavericks the game. The Pelicans outrebounded them 58-38. He

felt he forced some bad shots in the first half when he was

double-teamed, connecting on only 2 of 7 instead of finding the

open man. He even missed two free throws after hitting an NBA-best

86 of 91 before Wednesday.

The Mavericks also messed up their final defensive possession,

giving New Orleans forward Ryan Anderson a wide-open look to tie

the score. Anderson, who entered as the NBA’s second-most-accurate

3-point shooter at 55.6 percent, missed it with 2 seconds left.

”We switched at the end and left him open,” Nowitzki said. ”I

don’t know what happened. He had a clean look from the top of the

key, which he probably makes eight out of 10, so we really dodged a


Reserve Vince Carter had 15 points for Dallas and Monta Ellis

added 14 points, with the other three starters scoring between 10

and 12.

Jrue Holiday had a season-high 26 points for the Pelicans, who

played without injured forward Anthony Davis for the second

consecutive game. Al-Farouq Aminu tied his career high with 20

rebounds and added a season-high 16 points. Anderson finished with

18 points and 13 rebounds.

The Mavericks won with balance for three quarters and Nowitzki

taking over down the stretch. No play was bigger than his block of

Gordon in the lane. He had not blocked more than one shot in any

game this year.

”Tell them you’re a shot blocker now,” Carter said jokingly as

Nowitzki talked in the locker room.

”We have a lot of guys doing a lot of things to try to take the

pressure off of him so he doesn’t feel he has to put up big numbers

every quarter,” Carter added. ”It can wear him down. Now fourth

quarter he can do what he does best.”

The Pelicans, who outscored opponents by 25 points in the second

half while going 3-0 on their recently concluded road trip, tried

to pull away in the third quarter with an 8-0 run to go up 73-65

late in the quarter. But the Mavericks answered with a 10-2 spurt,

getting 3-pointers from Jae Crowder and Carter.

Dallas stayed hot at the start of the fourth. Nowitzki scored on

a turnaround to give the Mavericks a 79-77 lead, converted a

3-point play on a tough shot and hit a free throw after the

Pelicans were called for a defensive 3-second violation as Dallas

went ahead 83-77.

That lead didn’t last long. Holiday sank a 3-pointer to tie the

score at 86 with 6:49 left.

Nowitzki hit a face-up midrange shot to give Dallas a 97-94 lead

before Holiday sank a long 3-pointer to tie the score at 97,

setting up Nowitzki’s finish.

”It’s not very often you win on the road getting pounded on the

glass by 20 boards,” Nowitzki said. ”But we’ll definitely take


Without Davis, New Orleans could not extend its winning streak

to four games for the first time since Jan. 5-11 of 2013.

In Davis’ absence, Aminu was more aggressive than usual.

Averaging 5.5 points and 5.5 rebounds, he had a double-double by

halftime (10 points, 11 rebounds) of his first in a full game this

season. He finished the half with a soaring dunk off a nice pass

from Holiday and a reverse layup around Nowitzki.

”I always grade myself off wins and losses,” Aminu said. ”It

really doesn’t matter what I do. It’s a disappointing night.”

NOTES: Davis talked to reporters before the game for the first

time since he fractured the fifth metacarpal when he hit his hand

on the rim against the New York Knicks on Sunday. ”Of course it’s

frustrating,” he said. ”You want to be on the floor. But at the

same time, there’s nothing you can do about it.” . Calderon

started for Dallas after being listed as day to day with a bruised

right ankle. . Neither team led by double digits at any time in the

game. . New Orleans, which fell to 9-9, has not been two games

above .500 since starting 2-0 in 2011-12.