Jason Terry, whom Nowitzki has long referred to as one of the game’s best closers, was at his clutch best after the Spurs erased an 18-point deficit by stunning the Mavs with a 26-4 run fueled by a 3-point barrage.
With Nowitzki struggling offensively after a four-game layoff, Terry took over the game down the stretch. He scored 16 of his game-high 34 points in the final 6:43 of regulation and the overtime period. That included a pull-up to force overtime and a jumper to give the Mavs the lead for good in the final minute.
But everybody in the American Airlines Center held their breath until the final buzzer, when Danny Green missed an open 3-pointer.
Nowitzki played hard, grabbing a season-high 13 rebounds, but he couldn’t buy a bucket for most of the game. He finished with 10 points on 5-of-14 shooting.
That was still much more impressive than the performance of the Spurs’ stars. Tim Duncan (12 points, six rebounds) and Tony Parker (nine points, 2-11 FG) sat with the rest of the Spurs starters from the 2:44 mark of the third quarter for the rest of the game.
What it means: This was one heck of an entertaining fight for first place in the Southwest Division. The Mavs will fly to Phoenix a half-game ahead of Houston and one game ahead of the archrival Spurs.
Play of the game: Nowitzki grabbed a defensive rebound with six seconds remaining and got the rock to Jason Terry, who furiously pushed it up the floor and drilled a cold-blooded 17-foot pull-up jumper with 0.5 seconds remaining. That forced overtime … after Green’s would-be game-winning turnaround at the buzzer was ruled a split-second late upon review.
Stat of the night: Two Mavs had season-high point totals: Terry (34) and Vince Carter (21).