All appeared lost for the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night after they trailed the pesky Sacramento Kings by 10 points with less than four minutes left in the game.
But the Mavs kept pecking away and kept making big play after big play at both ends of the court before rallying for a pulsating 108-104 overtime victory against the Kings at Sleep Train Arena.
In avoiding their first three-game losing streak of the season, the Mavs increased their record to 27-12 going into Wednesday’s game in Denver.
This was the type of game that the Mavs know they were fortunate to win. The Kings were winning the physical battle and the rebounding battle, and broke away from an 83-all tie to vault ahead 95-85. However, the Mavs kept nibbling away until a pair of free throws by Tyson Chandler tied it at 99 apiece with 33.5 seconds to go.
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Chandler’s charity tosses came after Kings center DeMarcus Cousins rolled over the Mavs’ center ankle. But following a timeout, Chandler stepped to the line and buried both free throws.
“We were scrambling for the ball and. . .I don’t know what happened,’’ Chandler said. “I don’t know if (Cousins) tried to dive or what.
“But somehow he rolled over on my leg. I’m a little banged up, but I’m alright.’’
After Monta Ellis’ missed 20-footer at the buzzer was the final shot in regulation, the Mavs made all the crucial plays in the overtime session.
With the 24-second shot clock running down, Rajon Rondo stepped up and nailed a huge 3-pointer to give Dallas a 104-102 lead. Rondo’s shot came on a night when he broke out of a four0game 7-of-37 shooting slump and converted 10-of-16 baskets while finishing with 21 points, five rebounds and seven assists.
“I caught the ball with six seconds and I saw Dirk (Nowitzki) run in to set the pick,’’ Rondo said. “I knew they would stick with Dirk and I had the shot, and I just had to take it.’’
Chandler Parsons created the next big play for the Mavs. After a missed jumper by Nowitzki, Parsons skied in from the right side and batted the rebound so hard that Nowitzki had to run about 60 feet to chase it down with 25.9 seconds left in overtime and Dallas ahead 104-103.
For the Mavs to be able to regain possession at that point in the game was crucial.
“I’m the slowest guy in the league, but I was somehow able to get to it before he goes out of bounds,’’ said Nowitzki, who had 15 points. “That was a big possession.’’
A possession Parsons wasn’t sure was going to end in the Mavs’ favor.
“I swear I thought (Nowitzki) wasn’t going to get it,’’ Parsons said. “But he really put on the jets.’’
The Kings intentionally fouled with 19.9 seconds to go after the plays by Parsons and Nowitzki. But with a three second differential between the shot clock and the game clock, the Kings explicably let over 11 seconds run off the clock before finally intentionally fouling Ellis with 8.7 second to go.
Ellis calmly went to the line ands converted both free throws to give Dallas a 106-103 lead.
From there, the Mavs intentionally fouled Darren Collison before he could get off a potential game-tying 3-pointer with 6.2 ticks to go. Collison split two free throws, and Ellis sealed the game with a pair of charity tossed with 5.7 seconds remaining.
“When you lose two in a row in the Western Conference you don’t want to let that third one happen,’’ Carlisle said. “It wasn’t looking good.
“But the guys hung in and kept fighting away at it and made it happen and got out of here alive, which is great.’’
Ellis paced the Mavs with 28 points and 10 assists, Chandler finished with 16 points and 17 rebounds, and Parsons added 13 points and seven boards.
The Mavs turned 20 Sacramento turnovers into 27 points, and played some remarkable defense in the fourth period and overtime to fight off the King, who got 32 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists from Cousins.
“Our defense getting more solid made a huge difference,’’ Carlisle said. “Part of the reason is we weren’t double-teaming quite as much, and we did late because Cousins was just having his way when he got the ball.
“It was a great team effort and real guts by our guys.’’
The Kings lost Rudy Gay for good with a sprained left knee early in the second period. Then, Cousins fouled out with 21.7 seconds left in regulation.
With the Kings’ top two players out, the Mavs took advantage of the situation.
“We showed a lot of resiliency down the stretch,’’ Chandler said. “Being able to make big plays offensively, and defensively we were scrambling.
“A lot of key plays down the stretch that had to happen, and that we actually made.’’
Carlisle added: “We just were scrambling real hard. We got blown by 15 times in the first half and only two in the second.’’
When Sacramento built that 10-point lead and was riding a strong wave of momentum, Nowitzki said he wasn’t sure the Mavs were going to be able to reach down and find the necessary energy to pull out the victory.
“We finally got some stops,’’ Nowitzki said. “I think we had that defensive intensity that was lacking for most of the night, and that really got us the win.
“I was a little worried about Tyson’s two free throws after he just rolled his ankle. I wasn’t sure if he could bend down and get down to it like he always does.’’
Chandler, though, came through in the clutch. As did the Mavs as whole.
“It was a great team effort,’’ Rondo said. “We stuck with it.
“Things didn’t go our way the entire game. But we continued to play hard and continued to believe in each other and we got the win.’’
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760