The Dallas Mavericks and Chicago Bulls were poised to extend their respective winning streaks to five in their last games, but were hurt by sloppy third quarters.
Both clubs look to come out more focused after halftime when they meet Friday night in Dallas, where the Mavericks are 12-1 against the Bulls over the past dozen years.
Dallas (7-3) led New Orleans 52-42 at halftime Wednesday, but was outscored 33-17 in the third as the Hornets surged into the lead. The Mavericks still had a chance to win, but New Orleans' David West tipped the ball away from Dirk Nowitzki with 2 seconds remaining with Dallas down by one.
West then hit a free throw for the final margin, handing the Mavericks a 99-97 loss and snapping their four-game winning streak.
Dallas did a solid job of protecting the ball during the win streak, averaging 13.5 turnovers, but turned it over seven times in the third period against the Hornets.
"Our undoing was the third quarter, when we were dominated," coach Rick Carlisle said. "We fought back, but you can't have a quarter where you get beat by 16 on the road and expect to walk out of here with a win. It just doesn't work that way.
"The difference was aggression. "That hasn't been our character, to not respond in that situation. That's the disappointing part."
Chicago (6-4) experienced a similar letdown in a 103-94 loss to San Antonio on Wednesday that stopped its four-game win streak.
After taking a 47-37 lead into halftime, the Bulls gave up 37 points in the third quarter. Chicago, which led by 17 in the first half, had 12 points on 6-of-23 shooting in the third, a season low for scoring in a quarter.
The Bulls, who opened a seven-game road trip with a 95-92 win over Houston on Tuesday, pulled within six with 1:58 remaining but couldn't complete the comeback.
"I don't know if it was fatigue," said guard Derrick Rose, who has scored 33 points in each of the last two games. "The good thing about the NBA is you play again in a few days. We still feel good about ourselves. Hopefully we learn from this and go out there and win the game against Dallas."
Doing that might not be that easy considering Chicago's struggles at the American Airlines Center.
The Bulls have lost five straight and 12 of 13 in Dallas. Chicago was swept by the Mavericks in 2009-10 and has dropped 21 of the last 24 matchups overall.
Nowitzki has averaged 27.8 points in the 10 games against the Bulls since the start of the 2005-06 season, his second-best scoring average against an opponent in that span.
Forward Caron Butler, who returned Wednesday after missing three games with back spasms, also gave Chicago trouble last season. He averaged 26.0 points in three games, including one with Washington.