LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Dirk Nowitzki was 1-for-10 in a difficult second half.
It didn't matter.
He was going to get the last shot.
Nowitzki, who had 20 points and 14 rebounds, put a fake on Kaman to create space before connecting from just inside the top of the key for just his sixth field goal in 19 attempts.
"It was a little frustrating for me offensively," Nowitzki said. "I kept my confidence. It really wasn't working for me great today. I'm glad it did for one play.
"When it comes down to the last shot, you don't think about what happened before. I had a good look -- it felt good leaving my hand. You have the ball in the last seconds, you just want to help your team win, that's it."
The Clippers had scored six straight points to tie the game on Elton Brand's only field goal of the second half, James Singleton's second 3-pointer of the fourth quarter, and a foul shot by Shaun Livingston with 17 seconds to play.
The Mavericks then got the ball to Nowitzki, who connected to move the Mavericks within a half-game of the Southwest Division-leading San Antonio Spurs in the race for the top seed in the Western Conference.
The Clippers couldn't get off a shot before the final buzzer.
It was a possible playoff preview played with postseason intensity. The Mavericks (59-19) won despite scoring only 25 points in the second half.
"We feel fortunate to get out of here with a victory," Mavericks coach Avery Johnson said. "Both teams played awesome defense. I don't know if we win this game in the past. Now, we're a different team."
Jason Terry added 15 points and Marquis Daniels shot 6-of-8 in scoring 13 for the Mavericks, who won despite shooting 28-of-75 (37.3 percent). The Clippers shot 25-of-71 (35.2 percent) including 14-of-50 (28 percent) after the first quarter.
"We couldn't buy a basket in the second half, but defensively we were getting stops," Terry said. "We think we can win a game with our defense -- we're convinced of that."
Kaman led the Clippers (44-33) with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Brand had 13 points and nine rebounds and Cuttino Mobley scored 10 for Los Angeles, which lost its third straight game and fell into a tie for fifth place in the West with Memphis.
"It's disappointing, but we'll bounce back," Brand said. "I'm very optimistic. As a team, we didn't shoot well. Personally, I got great looks, but just didn't knock them down."
Brand shot 4-of-15 including 1-of-7 after halftime.
The team that finishes second in the Southwest Division will be seeded fourth and play the No. 5 seed in the first round of the playoffs.
"I was real pleased with our defensive effort tonight," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "In the second half, to hold a team to 25 points like that is pretty strong."
The Clippers outscored the Mavericks 13-4 before Nowitzki's game-winning shot.
Both teams struggled offensively in the third quarter, with the Clippers outscoring the Mavericks 13-11 to move within eight points. Los Angeles shot 5-of-19 and Dallas 4-of-16 in the period.
The Mavericks turned up their defensive intensity in the second quarter, outscoring the Clippers 33-14 for a 50-40 halftime lead. Los Angeles shot 3-of-14 and committed four turnovers in the period after going 11-of-21 with one turnover in the first quarter.
"The second quarter is what killed us," Kaman said. "Hopefully we'll get to play these guys in the playoffs because I think we match up well with them."
The Clippers, playing their fifth game in seven days, outscored the Mavericks 12-2 to take a 24-12 lead. It was 26-17 entering the second period.
Clippers F Corey Maggette missed his third game because of back spasms. An MRI taken earlier Monday showed no serious damage, but Dunleavy said he believes Maggette will sit out at least one more game. ... The Clippers also played most of the game without G Sam Cassell, who was scoreless in seven minutes before leaving in the second quarter with flu symptoms. ... The Mavericks need
one win to equal the franchise-record 60 they won four years ago. ... The Clippers, who will make their first playoff appearance since 1997, had a franchise-best 49-33 record in the 1974-75 season while playing in Buffalo. Their best record since moving to California in 1978 was the 45-37 mark by the 1992-93 team. ... Dallas' Adrian Griffin, sidelined since March 12 because of an injured right hamstring, returned to action and went scoreless in 3 minutes.