- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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NEW ORLEANS -- The Dallas Mavericks squeaked out a 100-97 win at New Orleans Arena, their second victory in two nights.
How it happened: The Hornets seemed to find all sorts of bizarre ways to beat the Mavs in this building in recent years, but the Pelicans couldn’t close the deal in their first swing at Dallas.
The Mavericks left the door wide open when Dirk Nowitzki split a pair of free throws with 32.3 seconds remaining, meaning Dallas led by only one point. The Pelicans got two great looks on the next possession -- an open, midrange jumper by small forward Al-Farouq Aminu and a driving floater by shooting guard Eric Gordon -- but neither of them went down.
After Nowitzki hit a couple of free throws to push the Mavs’ lead to three with eight seconds remaining, New Orleans got one more good look. Power forward Ryan Anderson, who had been red-hot from 3-point range entering the game, couldn’t knock down a game-tying 26-footer.
The Mavs survived big nights by Aminu (16 points, 20 rebounds) and point guard Jrue Holiday (26 points, 9 assists), who would have given Jose Calderon fits even if the Mavs’ point guard wasn’t hobbled by a bad ankle.
Nowitzki didn’t shoot the ball well, making only 7 of 17 shots from the floor. But he put up double-digit points in the fourth quarter for the second straight night. He had 11 of his team-high 21 points in the final frame.
All five New Orleans’ starters scored in double figures, but the Mavs had a 25-10 edge in points off the bench.
What it means: For the first time in five tries, the Mavs recorded a road win against a West foe. Dallas won on back-to-back nights after dropping four of its previous five games. The Mavs are 12-8 at roughly the quarter point of the season, putting them on pace for 49 wins. The Pelicans fell to 9-9.
Play of the game: He’s perhaps the best finesse power forward in NBA history, but Nowitzki showed his willingness to do some dirty work by diving to the floor to grab a contested loose ball in the final minute of the third quarter. He immediately shoveled the ball to a sprinting Jae Crowder, who took one more step before throwing down a game-tying tomahawk slam to finish the transition scramble.
Stat of the night: The Mavs are 11-1 when Monta Ellis has at least five assists and 3-0 when he records double-digits dishes. He matched his season high with 10 assists against the Pelicans to go along with 14 points.