How it happened: The Mavericks had to sweat much more down the stretch than they should have.
A 23-point lead got cut all the way down to three with two minutes to go, which is especially troubling after the Mavs blew a 13-point lead in Thursday night’s streak-snapping loss to the Nuggets. But the Mavs managed to pull this out, with Dirk Nowitzki knocking down a baseline jumper to give them a little breathing room after the Rockets' run.
It should have been a blowout because the Mavs played magnificent offensive basketball for three quarters.
Peja Stojakovic’s 22-point performance was especially encouraging. He made only a quarter of his shots from the floor in his first three games with the Mavs, but we got a good look at the well-rounded scorer the Mavs thought they were getting when they signed the veteran.
Stojakovic got in a rhythm early by taking advantage of smaller Kevin Martin on the block. Suddenly, the basket looked awfully big for him. He did most of his damage in the third quarter from the perimeter. He finished 8-of-12 from the floor and 4-of-6 from 3-point range.
Four other Mavericks also scored in double figures. Nowitzki, who had 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting, had his best game since jamming his right wrist Monday night.
What it means: The Mavs enter a three-day layoff with a winning taste in their mouths. They also have a share of second place in the Western Conference.
Play of the game: It’s tough to choose between fantastic fast-break feeds by J.J. Barea on back-to-back possessions in the second quarter. Barea threw a beautiful bounce pass between two defenders to hit Shawn Marion in stride in the paint, resulting in a two-hand slam. Then Barea basically one-timed a lob pass to Tyson Chandler for another ferocious dunk. Barea had the ball for a split second after taking a pass from Jason Kidd. He could have gone up for a layup, but he wisely got the ball in the hands of the Mavs’ best finisher high above the rim.
Stat of the night: Peja Stojakovic is the ninth Maverick to have a 20-point game this season. The others: Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry, Caron Butler, Shawn Marion, Tyson Chandler, Jason Kidd, DeShawn Stevenson and J.J. Barea.