DALLAS -- Probably the best thing the Dallas Mavericks can say about Wednesday's 107-101 triumph over the Washington Wizards is that they actually won the game.
The Mavs were able to snap their three-game winning streak with that victory over the winless Wizards before 19,560 at American Airlines Center. But the win was marred by the Mavs nearly blowing a 22-point third-quarter lead , which was the dominant talk inside the winner's locker room.
"In the second quarter everything was clicking, the third quarter not bad, and the fourth quarter we just let guys get too many easy shots," said Elton Brand, who had 11 points and 12 boards. "We'll take the positives out of the first three quarters and get better from the fourth quarter because we can't have that."
The Mavs (5-4) led 67-45 less than a minute into the third quarter and appeared as though they would coast to the finish line. But the bottom nearly fell out of a Mavs' machine that scored a whopping 40 points in the second period and was nursing a 63-45 lead at the half.
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On the strength of 15 unanswered points and some terrific shooting by Houston Aldine Nimitz product Cartier Martin, the Wizards hustled all the way back to within 88-85 with 6:59 left.
It was still a three-point Mavs lead (104-101) with 21.3 seconds to go after Martin drilled his fourth 3-point basket of the final period. But after a Mavs timeout, Chris Kaman got loose and converted a three-point play with 17.8 seconds remaining for the game's final points.
"We weren't getting stops and our execution on offense wasn't very good," coach Rick Carlisle said. "I forget the exact sequence, but we were able to get one or two stops, score, and get a little bit of a cushion, and then were able to win.
"It's obvious we have a lot of work to go, though."
Kaman started for the Mavs and contributed 23 points and eight rebounds in 32 minutes. But he was dismayed by the way the Mavs nearly coughed this game away before they begin a two-game road trip that starts Friday against the Indiana Pacers.
"I felt pretty comfortable, but I'm just a little concerned the way we let that team come back," Kaman said. "We were up 22 points and it's disappointing to see us go out and give that back like that.
"And that comes from everybody. It's not just one person."
The Mavs shot 50 percent from the field, won the rebounding battle 40-34, and only committed 13 turnovers.
O.J. Mayo paced the Mavs with 25 points, and Jae Crowder (12 points) and Troy Murphy (10 points) gave Dallas a productive outing off the bench. Still, after the Mavs toted an 85-67 lead into the fourth quarter, it looked as if they were ready to pull up a couple of chairs and relax during the final 12 minutes.
But the visitors had other ideas and made the Mavs squirm all the way to the finish line.
"They knocked down some big shots and made it a game," Brand said. "When you have a team down you've got to step on them.
"We've got to play harder and play more physical. We gave them a lot of easy looks and we can't have that."
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760