DALLAS -- The Dallas Mavericks could have used some of the energy they showed on Friday two nights ago when the games still mattered.
After being eliminated from the playoffs for the first time in 13 years on Wednesday, the Mavs bounced back Friday night against the Denver Nuggets with a 108-105 victory in overtime.
The Mavs (39-40) had a chance to put it away in regulation, but couldn't get out of their own way when O.J. Mayo coughed it up in the backcourt with Dallas holding a two-point lead. That allowed the Nuggets to force the extra period when Corey Brewer scored with three seconds left. Mayo then missed a finger roll at the buzzer.
Dallas, now 3-8 in overtime games, finally put it away with Mayo and Vince Carter, who had a near triple-double with 22 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists, draining key jumpers to secure the victory at the American Airlines Center. Denver's Andre Iguodala missed a last-ditch 3-point attempt at the buzzer off an inbounds play from the sideline.
"We reside in kind of an altered state of zaniness, our team," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "It's just kind of been that way. It's never easy, it's a bit of an adventure, but they're good guys and they're trying. Denver is a really talented team. Athletically, they're about a 15 and we're in the middle region of another scale. We've really got to play together and smart. The guys found a way and it was great."
The loss snapped Denver's five-game winning streak and it also loosened its grip on the No. 3 seed, putting it in a dead heat at 54-25 with the Memphis Grizzlies, who won at Houston on Friday night. The Los Angeles Clippers, also winners on Friday, are one game back. The Nuggets, however, hold the tiebreaker on both teams.
Nuggets coach George Karl walked away miffed that his team didn't attempt a free throw in the third quarter when it was outscored 17-2 at one point and 30-22 in all to trail for the first time in the game.
"We didn't get a foul in the whole third quarter; driving to the basket on almost every possession," Karl said. "Not one foul. Not one foul. I think that my team knows that we have to play a little better than we did to win a game on the road against a good basketball team."
While forward and second-leading scorer Danilo Gallinari will miss the rest of the season with an ACL injury suffered in the game against Dallas on April 4, Denver got some good news Friday night with the return of point guard and leading scorer Ty Lawson. Lawson had missed eight of the last nine games with a torn plantar fascia in his right foot.
Lawson, targeted to play 20 minutes by Karl before the game, logged 19 minutes. He finished with 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting with three assists. He was encouraged by his progress afterward.
"I got three weeks of rest, but I've got to get back into game shape," Lawson said. "I didn't feel like I was tired out there or anything, but I need to get back to my teammates getting used to me. They've been playing a different style since I've been out."
Carter and Dirk Nowitzki each had 22 points to lead Dallas. Mayo finished with 20 points and six assists, and Shawn Marion had 15 points and eight rebounds.
Iguodala, Wilson Chandler and Brewer each had 18 points for the Nuggets. JaVale McGee had 11 points and Kenneth Faried had 11 points and 10 rebounds.
The Nuggets dropped to 18-22 on the road. They have three games left, including two at home, where they're 36-3. That's where they'll be on Sunday to face the Portland Trail Blazers.
Dallas will attempt to get back to .500 for a fourth time Sunday at New Orleans. The Mavs last were .500 at 11-11 in December.
"Honestly, I try to play the end of the season out strong and win the next game for coach," Nowitzki said.
NOTES: Nowitzki needs 22 points to become the 17th player in NBA history to score 25,000. ... Chandler has excelled as a starter this season when called upon. He started his third consecutive game and sixth of the season in place of Gallinari. Chandler was averaging 18.2 points and 5.4 rebounds as a starter before Friday.