That was the easy part for the star forward. Just don't ask the frustrated Nowitzki to explain how the Mavericks even got into the position that his blocked shot and go-ahead jumper were needed in the final minute against the short-handed and hurting Los Angeles Clippers.
"Terrible. We had a good lead and we let up," Nowitzki said. "They got whatever they wanted offensively. We couldn't get any stops."
Until Nowitzki, who had 34 points, blocked a shot and then scored with 37 seconds remaining in a 107-102 victory Tuesday night.
Dallas got started with its highest-scoring quarter of the season and had an 18-point lead before halftime against the Clippers, who had only eight players in uniform because of numerous lingering injuries and a suspension.
"This was a feisty Clippers team," Josh Howard said.
More than an hour before the game, coach Rick Carlisle was trying to convince reporters -- and certainly his own players -- that it would not be an easy game.
And the Mavericks made sure it wasn't against Los Angeles, whose NBA-worst losing streak is now at eight games.
Dallas needed a game-ending 11-1 run to avoid being upset at home, finally going ahead to stay on Nowitzki's high-arching 11-footer after he had blocked rookie Eric Gordon's driving layup attempt at the other end.
Gordon, who scored 32 points, had a turnover on the next possession when the ball was knocked from his hands by Jason Kidd -- though the rookie and his coach both thought there was a foul on the play.
"I'm not even going to comment on that," Gordon said diplomatically. "We just lost, I'm not going to worry about it. ... We had them and we couldn't close it out."
The Clippers have gone multiple games without the injured Baron Davis (bruised tailbone), Zach Randolph (left knee), Mike Taylor (right thumb) and Chris Kaman (left knee). Plus, Ricky Davis served the second of his five-game NBA suspension for violating the league's drug policy.
"I'm really proud of our guys, how hard they played and what they did," coach Mike Dunleavy said. "A couple of bounces didn't go our way, a couple of calls didn't go our way and the Mavericks pulled one off."
Los Angeles, coming off a one-point loss at home against Detroit two days earlier, led the Mavs for the first time since the opening two minutes of the game when Mardy Collins hit a 3-pointer to make it 95-93 with 6:38 left.
Jose Barea then made a 3-pointer to put Dallas back in front, but Al Thornton made three consecutive baskets, two layups before his 24-foot jumper put the Clippers up 101-95 with 2:39 left. That was Los Angeles' last field goal.
"We stopped believing (in moral victories) a long time ago," said Thornton, who finished with 25 points. "We just need to learn how to close games out."
Nowitzki hit a 3-pointer, then Josh Howard scored before Nowitzki blocked Gordon's shot.
Howard had 22 points, while Brandon Bass had 13. Collins, who liked Gordon played more than 45 minutes, had 17 points for Los Angeles.
The Mavs' highest-scoring quarter of the season had them up 37-22 when Jason Terry and Howard hit consecutive 3-pointers at the end of the first to cap a 15-2 spurt.
Nowitzki scored 10 in an early 12-0 run that push the Mavericks in front to stay until late.
Gordon scored the final nine points for the Clippers in the first half, including two free throws in the final second after being fouled on an inbound play to get Los Angeles within 64-54 after being fouled on an inbound play.
Dallas threw the ball away on an inbound play with 0.8 seconds left. Devean George, put in for defense and making his only appearance of the game, wrapped his arm around Gordon and was called for a foul.
"The way the first half ended was really sort of a microcosm of the game. Just very poor execution on our part," Carlisle said. "The latter part of the second quarter was our undoing because we gave them life. And then we were poor."
- The Mavs, coming off a 20-point loss at Memphis, have played 25 games without back-to-back losses. Their only losing streak this season was five in a row from Nov. 7-14.
- Gordon finished with his fifth consecutive 20-point game. He had his second consecutive career-high scoring night, after 31 against Detroit.