SACRAMENTO - The way their season has unfolded, the Dallas Mavericks were just looking for a win any way they could get it.
It mattered not that Thursday's 117-112 overtime victory came against a Sacramento Kings squad that -- like the Mavs -- were also going through more than their share of personal struggles. The Mavs were just gasping for air themselves, so they needed something positive to happen so they could finish off this three-game road trip in the right direction.
“We had to dig deep for that one,'' said Dirk Nowitzki, who had 17 points in a season-high 40 minutes. “This is definitely one we needed and wanted to have, so we battled.
“It wasn't pretty. I think we shot ourselves in the foot plenty of times when we were up, turned the ball over. But I'm proud of the guys the way we hung in there and found a way to win.''
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The Mavs trailed by as much as 17 points -- 71-54 -- with 3:50 left in the third period but Dallas showed some tremendous poise and guts and won a game that seemed to be getting away from them very fast.
In the end, the Mavs snapped a four-game losing streak and improved to 14-23 going into Saturday's home game against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Afterwards, coach Rick Carlisle proved to be a prophet after the Mavs won for the first time this season in overtime, running their overtime record to a spotty 1-7.
“I was pretty sure before the game that this was going to go to overtime,'' coach Carlisle said. “I just had a feeling it was, and I had a feeling we were going to win, so I'm not surprised by any of it.
“I love the way our guys hung in, even when we were way down. I just thought we had it in us to get it back.''
Despite the win, the Mavs nearly blew it -- again. Dallas led by five points with 58.1 seconds left in regulation following a pair of free throws from Shawn Marion. But that lead evaporated quickly, with Isaiah Thomas sending the game into overtime tied at 101-101 when he banked in a wild 25-footer with 9.1 seconds to go.
But the Mavs took the lead for good at 111-109 on two more free throws by Marion with 57.8 seconds remaining in overtime.
Still, there were more theatrics as Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins was charged with a Flagrgant-2 foul and was ejected for elbowing Vince Carter in the face with 41.9 ticks to go. A reporter asked Carter what happened form his vantage point when Cousins elbowed him in the face. Carter was amused and asked: “From my vantage point?
“I don't know if he was frustrated. We were battling for the ball and it was one of those things you see something coming, but you can't move (out of the way) fast enough.''
Carter buried the two charity tosses for a 113-109 Mavs lead, and then Tyreke Evans split a pair of free throws. But another pair of freebies from Marion increased the Dallas lead to 115-110 with 22.8 seconds left.
The pesky Kings, though, didn't go quietly as Evans scored inside to make it a one possession game. Then, when Carter missed two free throws with 15.7 seconds left, that opened the door for Sacramento to possibly send the game into a second overtime.
However, Thomas missed a three-point attempt, and OJ Mayo finally sealed it with 8.2 ticks to go with a pair of free throws.
Carter finished with 23 points and five rebounds, and also converted 13-of-16 free throws.
“Vince had a great game,'' Carlisle said “He was attacking all night long, he got to the free throw line 16 times.
“He was huge for us and he helped us get the lead in the fourth. Unfortunately we weren't able to hold it. They hit a couple of lucky shots, which happens sometimes, and we had to withstand all that stuff and we did.''
The Mavs also did something they hadn't done since last season -- win an overtime game.
“Tonight the mindset was we were going to win this in overtime,'' said Marion, who contributed 19 points and 10 boards. “We were able to get stops and hit big shots.
“We're taking baby steps in the right direction. Hopefully we can start to crawl.''
The Kings (13-23) used 12 points by Cousins to take a 25-23 lead after the first quarter. Sacramento widen that lead to 49-42 at the half and appeared on the verge of blowing the Mavs out when Francisco Garcia got the Sleep Train Arena crowd of 14,011 all fired up by tallying 11 points in the third period.But with new point guard Mike James coming in and calming down the Mavs, and with OJ Mayo and Carter attacking the basket, the Mavs were able to slowly inch back into the game.
“Tonight was big for us and to get the overtime win was big for us,'' said Mayo, who had 24 points and 10 rebounds. “To show that we can play well in the fourth quarter was also big for us.''
Nowitzki was glad that the cloud that has hovered over the Mavs has been lifted.
“It's almost like we're playing not to lose instead of having fun winning,'' Nowitzki said. “So hopefully we can get back to winning ways and still compete and play hard and just have fun again.
“Just have fun competing at both ends of the floor, share the ball, make shots and just have a pep in our step.''
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760