OAKLAND, Calif. -- Baron Davis lined up a straightaway 3-point shot to tie it in the waning seconds, and the Golden State crowd rose while the Mavericks' hearts sank.
From Dirk Nowitzki to the peanut vendors, everybody assumed the man who became a Bay Area folk hero with his dynamic playoff performances against Dallas last spring would hit another magical shot to hurt the Mavs.
"We gave Baron a look like that, and it looked like he was going to get it," Nowitzki admitted.
But Baron blew it, and the Mavericks fled Oracle Arena with a 120-115 victory against the winless Golden State Warriors on Thursday night -- and a bit of hollow revenge from their historic playoff defeat in the same arena they finally silenced.
Nowitzki scored eight of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, while Jason Terry and Josh Howard both had 24 points as the Mavericks snapped a five-game regular-season losing streak against an opponent that always brings out the worst in one of the NBA's best franchises.
Until Davis' 3-point attempt clanged off the front of the rim with 4 seconds to play, the Mavericks were all but expecting a calamity. They lost three games in Oakland last spring in front of frenzied crowds as Davis led the eighth-seeded Warriors to the NBA's first upset of a top-seeded opponent in a seven-game series.
"We're always going to look at how that season ended," Nowitzki said. "That won't leave us, but this is a young team, and our team may still have its time."
With a whole lot less at stake Thursday night, the Mavericks needed strong efforts from every veteran to hang on against an 0-5 Golden State team with 10 players in uniform. No matter the circumstances, the Mavs finally moved their biggest mental block a few inches.
"If we lose, maybe it's a big deal," said Jerry Stackhouse, who hit a key 3-pointer with 37 seconds left. "If we win, I don't know if it's that much of a big deal. With what's gone on over the past year-and-a-half between these teams, any time we meet it's going to be a big game."
Davis was outstanding again, scoring 15 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter and carrying his team's six-man rotation into the final minutes. Kelenna Azubuike had 27 points and a career-high 11 rebounds for the Warriors, who had a short bench because of injuries and the suspension of Stephen Jackson, their defensive leader against Nowitzki last spring.
"I think it was a big step for us," said Howard, who fouled out with 5:50 to play. "We took on a great team and beat them on their home court. That's something we can use later on."
After Golden State pulled within one point in the final minute, Stackhouse hit a 3-pointer from the sideline to put the Mavs up 117-113. Davis cut the lead to two points, but Brandon Bass -- who wasn't around for the upset last spring -- grabbed an offensive rebound amid four Warriors with 8 seconds left.
Stackhouse made only one free throw, and Golden State had a final shot to tie it. But Davis' 3-pointer was short, and Devin Harris hit two free throws to finish with 21 points.
While the Mavs spoke of the victory's cathartic aspects, the Warriors have bigger problems -- their 0-5 start and another night of dismal free throw shooting (16-for-30).
"It's tough, because we're not putting ourselves in position to win the game when we're not making free throws," said Davis, who went 6-for-9. "I'm one of the culprits. We played well enough to win. We just didn't make our free throws."
The Warriors lost their first four games this season while struggling to replace Jason Richardson and Jackson, who was suspended for pleading guilty to a felony charge of criminal recklessness. Golden State also played Thursday night without forward Mickael Pietrus, who stayed home with the flu, and injured veteran reserves Troy Hudson and Austin Croshere.
"I wouldn't count us out," Davis said. "This team is capable of winning 10 games in a row. We have to lock in, get Jack back and we're going to be good."
- Moments after Davis made an electrifying putback dunk in the second quarter, Harris and Matt Barnes both got technical fouls for a confrontation under the basket.
- Warriors rookie Stephane Lasme made his NBA debut, playing the final 3.8 seconds of the first half. Lasme was a second-round draft pick from Massachusetts.
- Guitarist Carlos Santana, a Bay Area resident, watched the game in a courtside seat.