The Dallas Mavericks survived a late claw-back by the league-worst Charlotte Bobcats to give the NBA champions a 101-96 victory on Thursday.
Remarkably, it was the first time in nearly a month the Mavericks had recorded back-to-back wins.
“It is two wins and we’ve done good things, but if you look at our schedule it gets significantly more difficult now,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle told reporters.
“We’ve got to carry that good stuff into Saturday. We’re having to work for everything and that’s the way it should be.”
Charlotte (6-36) went on an early 20-4 run and built a 14-point lead in the second quarter, before the Mavericks narrowed the deficit to six points at halftime, scoring the final seven points of the second quarter.
“We talked about we need better starts,” Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki said, “But that was a slow start again. We were a step slow to everything.
They got whatever they wanted – they got hot and made some threes. I just thought our defensive energy wasn’t there.”
The Mavericks (25-20) carried the momentum into the third, led by Nowitzki, who hit consecutive three-point baskets to give them a 65-62 lead, which they extended to a 17-point advantage with four minutes left in the game.
Charlotte regained their shooting touch and rallied to within three points with only 20 seconds left, but Nowitzki hit two free throws to finally put the game out reach.
“We played as well as we can play,” said Charlotte coach Paul Silas.
“It was just the third quarter that gives us problems, but everything else was almost picture perfect.
“When they put the zone on us, we couldn’t make shots. You’ve got to give them credit. They came through in the end, but I like the way we played.”
Nowitzki finished with 27 points to lead Dallas, who have never lost to the Bobcats, winning all 15 games between the two teams.
Jason Terry hit three-of-five three-point attempts and grabbed 18 off the bench, while Corey Maggette led the Bobcats with 21 points, Tyrus Thomas adding a season-high 14.