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Mavericks 100, Pelicans 97

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NEW ORLEANS -- Forward Dirk Nowitzki scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half, including his team's last five points, and guard Jose Calderon added a pair of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to lift the Dallas Mavericks to a 100-97 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night at the New Orleans Arena.

After Nowitzki hit an 18-footer with 2:25 left to put the Mavericks on top 97-94, guard Jrue Holiday tied the game at 97 with a 3-pointer from 25 feet away on the left wing with 1:25 remaining.

Nowitzki was fouled on a switch by Holiday with 32.3 seconds left, but the normally deadly free-throw shooter made only 1 of 2 from the line, putting the Mavericks up 98-97.

After guard Eric Gordon missed a driving layup attempt in the lane, Nowitzki grabbed the rebound and was fouled by forward Al-Farouq Aminu, and Nowitzki made both free throws, extending the Dallas lead to 100-97 with 8.0 seconds left.

The Pelicans' last shot -- a 3-point attempt by forward Ryan Anderson at the top of the key -- hit the back of the iron at the buzzer.

The Mavericks (12-8) recorded their fourth consecutive victory over the Pelicans. New Orleans (9-9) wasted a career effort by Aminu, who finished with a season-high 16 points and 21 rebounds. Holiday led the Pelicans with 26 points.

The Pelicans used an 8-0 run to take their biggest lead of the game -- 73-65 late in the third quarter, but Dallas used a 10-2 run of its own, with seven points coming from Jae Crowder, to tie the game, 75-75.

Trailing 77-75 to begin the fourth quarter, Nowitzki finally caught fire, sparking an 8-0 run with a 15-footer and 20-footer over forward Ryan Anderson, putting Dallas back on top, 83-77 with 9:28 left.

But Holiday split two Dallas defenders and was fouled going to the basket, converting two foul shots, and when he nailed a 3-pointer from the left wing with 6:47 left, the game was tied again at 86.

After being benched for one game, Aminu made his second consecutive start and played in the first half with the kind of energy coach Monty Williams asked for. Aminu scored 10 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the first half -- his first double-double of the season -- as the Pelicans took a 53-52 lead.

Each team's offense feasted on the absence of a rim-protector. The Pelicans had 32 of their 53 first-half points in the paint. Sixteen of the Pelicans' 23 first-half field goals came in the paint.

The Mavericks, meanwhile, had 26 points in the paint, with center DeJuan Blair diving into the lane on pick and rolls for 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting.

Despite missing 12 of 15 shots from long range, the Pelicans held their slim first-half advantage on the strength of excellent board work, outrebounding the Mavericks 31-20.

NOTES: Pelicans PF Anthony Davis, who was averaging 22.6 points, 10.6 rebounds and 3.6 blocks through 16 games, said it will be frustrating to miss 4-6 weeks with a non-displaced fracture of his fifth metacarpal on his pinky finger. He broke the finger Sunday night hitting his hand on the rim while trying to catch a lob pass against the New York Knicks. "You want to be on the floor," Davis said after watching his teammates in a Wednesday shoot-around. "But I have a lot of confidence in our system with the team and the coaches where we can still pull out wins no matter who is on the floor." ... Pelicans coach Monty Williams said Davis' extended absence -- which could stretch to 20 games -- may force New Orleans into more three-guard sets. "We're asking guards to get in the lane more and posting up guards more and running pick-and-roll sets with other people, not just Jrue (Holiday) and Eric (Gordon)," Williams said. ... The Mavericks, who were 2-6 on the road coming in, play four straight on the road. ... Dallas PG Jose Calderon has a bruised right ankle, but coach Rick Carlisle said he hoped Calderon could play at a high level. "He's an experienced starting point guard that we love having on the floor," Carlisle said. 'He's one of our best shooters. He knows how to get our team into offensive sets and he's one of our better defenders."
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