NEW ORLEANS (AP) — 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 bullet."
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.