How it happened: The Mavs finally closed against the Clippers.
But not without some white-knuckle moments.
Dallas took the lead with a 10-0 run, fueled by a pair of Dirk Nowitzki 3-pointers, the second of which capped the spurt with 6 minutes, 36 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. The lead was 12 with 2:51 remaining.
Then the Clippers responded with a 10-0 run over the next 85 seconds, cutting the deficit to two points and conjuring up memories of the Mavs being dominated in crunch time during their three losses to Los Angeles’ contending team this season.
The Clippers had a couple of chances to tie the game or take the lead in the final minute, but J.J. Redick and Darren Collison missed 3-pointers. Collison, who was blamed for many of the Mavs’ clutch failures during his brief stint in Dallas last season, airballed a corner 3 with 26.9 seconds remaining, a rough ending to his 22-point performance.
Nowitzki knocked down a couple of free throws on the ensuing possession, giving the Mavs a two-possession cushion.
Nowitzki scored 10 of his team-high 26 points in the fourth quarter, when he was 3-of-5 from the floor. He had been horrendous in fourth quarters in the three losses to the Clippers this season, scoring a total of 10 points on 2-of-17 shooting.
Nowitzki, who also led the Mavs with 11 rebounds, was one of five Dallas players to score in double figures.
What it means: The Mavs are alone in seventh place in the Western Conference after avoiding being swept by the Clippers in the season series. At 45-31, the Mavs have a half-game cushion on the Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns with six games remaining. The third-place Clippers fell to 54-23, putting them 2½ games behind the Oklahoma City Thunder and 3½ games ahead of the Houston Rockets.
Play of the game: The Clippers had a bunch of high-flying highlights, but the biggest buckets of the game were a pair of Nowitzki 3-pointers during the Mavs’ go-ahead 10-0 run in the fourth quarter. Both shots came off Devin Harris dishes to the same spot on the left wing, the first putting the Mavs up five and the second stretching the lead to 10.
Stat of the night: Half of Nowitzki's six double-doubles this season have come in the last five games.