- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Mavericks are in no position to worry about style points with their wins.
But they also can’t afford to ignore glaring mistakes.
So while Dirk Nowitzki was pleased to escape Detroit with a 102-99 win after the Mavs blew a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter, he expressed concern about Dallas’ defensive gaffes in the final nine minutes. He was especially alarmed about Detroit’s Charlie Villanueva getting a wide-open corner 3 on the final possession that could have sent the game into overtime.
“At least we were good enough down the stretch to win it, but we got lucky,” Nowitzki told reporters. “Villanueva was so wide open. We blew another coverage. I think we were switching that and one guy didn’t switch. Wide-open shot in the corner – he’ll probably make nine of 10 of those. We got lucky there.”
The bright side is that the Mavs managed to pull out a close win for the second straight game. They’ve had more than their share of tight losses this season, so Nowitzki felt a sense of relief after he knocked down a couple of midrange jumpers in the last two minutes to give the Mavs the lead for good.
“At least we’re winning some of those,” Nowitzki said. “I think two months ago, we would have even lost this one. At least this turned a little bit and we found a way to win it.”
Added Vince Carter: “A win is a win. It’s not about right now how pretty or how ugly they may be. It’s just as long as we get victories.”
A few more notes from the Mavs’ sigh-inducing W:
1. Marion iffy for Minnesota: Shawn Marion will probably be listed as questionable for Sunday’s game in Minnesota after sitting out Friday night’s win due to a bruised left calf.
“He’ll be day-to-day,” coach Rick Carlisle told reporters. “We don’t consider it serious, but we don’t want guys going out there that aren’t 100 percent. That’s not the right thing to do. … We need Shawn back when he can get back.”
Rookie Jae Crowder struggled after replacing Marion in the starting lineup, finishing with two points and no rebounds in 26 minutes. Crowder did have five assists, but the Mavs were outscored by 16 points with him on the floor.
Brandan Wright, on the other hand, took advantage of some minutes opened up by Marion’s absence. Wright, who got rare playing time at power forward with the second unit, had 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting, six rebounds and three blocks in 19 minutes.
2. Big 0 for Mayo: O.J. Mayo had no turnovers for the third consecutive game, the first time he’s done that in his five-year career.
Mayo followed up his 13-point, 12-assist performance in Wednesday’s win over Houston by leading the Mavs with 22 points against the Pistons.
“It feels like the game is slowing down for him,” Nowitzki said. “He’s making the right decisions.”
3. Dirk dinged: Nowitzki wore a padded sleeve on his left arm as protection after coming down with a sudden case of elbow tendinits.
Not that he’s too concerned about the ailment.
“I could barely move it yesterday, but it was fine today,” Nowitzki told reporters after his 12-point, seven-rebound outing. “It’s my left hand and I don’t use my left hand very much anyway, so it’s fine.”