The Spurs visibly frustrated Nowitzki, who continually yelled at officials. Popovich alternated Splitter, Diaw and Leonard defensively on Nowitzki, who shot 9 of 17.
"It was just to give him a different look," Popovich said of the rotations. "He's such a great player. Nobody stops him. At least giving him a different look makes me feel better like I'm trying, like I'm doing something."
Nowitzki also committed two early fouls.
"The first one was stupid," he said. "I saw the ball, kind of reach for it. By the time I reached for it, the ball was gone and I hit his arm. I missed my first two shots. I think I was a little anxious; I really wanted to play well. By the time I settled in in the second quarter, I was little too hyped up."
Carter kept the Mavericks in the game almost single-handedly in the first half, as Dallas trailed just 48-47. Ginobili scored eight straight points, including a pair of 3-pointers, as the Spurs opened a 78-67 lead with a minute remaining.
Ginobili, who was 2 for 5 on 3s, was energized by the team's return to health.
"For Tim and Tony, it's been a while, more than a month, probably without all three playing," Ginobili said. "It feels good. As I said the last two games, it's very important for us to be healthy, to start feeling confident, to start playing with each other again over the last stretch of the season."
NOTES: The Spurs have had 24 different lineups this season. ... San Antonio has won 12 of 14 regular-season games against Dallas. The Mavericks have not beaten the Spurs since a 106-99 victory on March 17, 2012, in Dallas. ... Popovich and Nowitzki engaged in somewhat contentious banter during the game. When Nowitzki was whistled for fouling Parker on a drive, he yelled at official Derek Richardson as he left for a substitution, "Just because (Popovich's) yelling doesn't mean there's a foul."