DALLAS -- Dirk Nowitzki couldn't buy a basket after halftime. He missed a stepback jumper for the win at the end of regulation and he clanked a tough, fallaway baseline jumper for the lead with two seconds left at the end of the first overtime.
By the time he sized up LaMarcus Aldridge at the free throw line with the Mavericks clinging to a two-point lead and the clock ticking down under 20 seconds in the second overtime, Nowitzki was 2-of-12 from the floor since halftime.
"You can't give me two looks at it," said Nowitzki, who must have meant three looks because the third time was indeed the charm.
Nowitzki bobbed and lofted a one-legged fallaway, drained it and then pumped his fist, tugged at his jersey and spit out a slew of, well, words, after having finally supplied the Mavs enough cushion with a four-point lead to secure a 97-94 double-overtime victory Saturday night.
"It was a vintage Nowitzki shot," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "Contested, bump, somehow create space, high-arch and the ball goes in."
But enough about Dirk, who had his first poor shooting game since four consecutive dandies reminded everyone that he really is an All-Star. His 20 points Saturday didn't come easily on 7-of-20 shooting in a season-high 45 minutes, but they still led the team. This third consecutive win was close to becoming a really bad loss, like the overtime winner against San Antonio or the one that actually became a loss at Cleveland when the Cavs came back from down 15 to win. The Spurs rallied from 18 down to force overtime and the Blazers, down 18 in the second quarter, took their first lead of the game, 83-81, in the opening minute of OT.
So, it wasn't pretty. Neither team reached 100 points in 58 minutes of hoops on the second night of a back-to-back for both. But when Dirk wasn't hitting and Dallas needed something out of Lamar Odom, he gave them seven of his 10 points on 3-of-3 shooting. In all, seven Mavs scored between seven and 20 points. Jason Terry ended his slump with 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting and was feeling so feisty that he had had about enough of Dirk missing potential game-winner and he let Carlisle know about it.
"I told the coaches ‘Gimme the ball.’ I’m serious," Terry said. "How long we gonna keep this thing going?"
Six Mavs grabbed between six and 12 rebounds, with Marion and Brendan Haywood keeping alive Marion's miss and Haywood getting the put-back for a 95-93 lead with 45.3 to play. Early in the second overtime, Marion pulled down one of his four offensive rebounds (and a team-high 12 overall) that led to a Delonte West bucket for a 91-89 lead.
West, of course, hopped off the bench to start the second OT in place of Jason Kidd, who had hit his minutes ceiling, Carlisle said, in his second game back from the strained calf. West hadn't played since the 6:08 mark of the fourth quarter, yet knocked down three consecutive shots as the only pair of fresh legs on the floor for either team.
"All I can is it's the NBA," said Marion, who had 14 points. "You can say this and say that, and at the end of the day we were able to pull out a win. It took two overtimes to do it, but you've got to give them credit. They're a resilient team, and that LaMarcus Aldridge is handful."
Aldridge, who played in high school at Seagoville, came home a first-time All-Star and played like one, dropping 33 points to go with 12 rebounds. He tied it up a couple times, but also missed a couple that could have really put Dallas in a bad spot.
No, this one wasn't pretty. The Mavs coughed it up 23 times and nearly lost for a fourth time when holding an opponent to under 40-percent shooting.
But when 10 players make some positive contribution to the end result, the Mavs will take it and move on to the next one.