NEW ORLEANS (AP) Vince Carter capped a 22-point performance with a 3-pointer that gave Dallas the lead with 6.5 seconds left, and the Mavericks held on for their third straight victory, 104-100 over the New Orleans Hornets on Friday night.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 25 points for the Mavericks, while Elton Brand added 13 points and Darren Collison 11, including a pair of key free throws in the final seconds.
Eric Gordon scored 23 for the Hornets, who have lost three straight. Anthony Davis added 10 points and 11 rebounds, but left the game in the third quarter with a sprained right knee.
Jason Smith added a season-high 22 points for New Orleans and Ryan Anderson had 20, including a 3 that gave the Hornets a 100-96 lead with 55.5 seconds left.
Mike James then hit a clutch 3 from the corner to get Dallas within one. New Orleans point guard Greivis Vasquez appeared to lose control of a shot that barely touched the front rim before Carter drilled his eventual game-winner, after which he walked purposefully back to the Dallas bench for a timeout without smiling, though he did exchange intense slaps of hands with Nowitzki and several other teammates.
New Orleans led 69-63 on Smith's jumper about midway through the third quarter, but Dallas controlled the rest of the period while Gordon was on the bench and Davis was in the locker room with the knee injury.
Brand's 14-footer and Shawn Marion's alley-oop dunk ignited a 16-3 run, capped by Carter's 3, that put the Mavs up 79-72.
Davis eventually returned to the bench with more than eight minutes to go, and Hornets officials said he was available to return, but he did little more than pedal a stationary bike and watch the finish from the bench.
The Hornets managed to rally without him, thanks in large part to Smith, who scored six points during an 8-0 run that he started by converting a three-point play off an off-balance floater in the lane.
New Orleans led 97-94 after Smith's jumper, but Nowitzki stopped the surge with 15-foot jumper that set up the thrilling finish.
Carter's winner made him 5 for 7 from 3-point range on the night. Nowitzki was 10 of 17 from the field, and Dallas shot 47.6 percent overall (40 of 84), compared to New Orleans' 40.7 percent (37 of 91). The Mavs made eight of their 20 3-point attempts, while New Orleans went 5 of 17 from deep.
Marion and O.J. Mayo each scored 10 for Dallas.
The Mavericks made 12 of their first 15 shots and raced to a 27-16 lead on Carter's 3.
But the Hornets responded with eight straight points to get as close as three before Carter scored inside as he was fouled. Carter wound up with 11 points in the first quarter, including a another quick-release 3 and a three-point play on a tough, off-balance floater as he fell over the baseline.
New Orleans surged ahead by as much as seven points in the second, thanks in large part to Gordon's 20 first-half points, mostly on explosive drives to the hoop. Davis had all 10 of his points in the opening 24 minutes, highlighted by a couple of authoritative two-handed jams.
Collison's free throws on a possession set up by an inadvertent whistle, when the Hornets appeared to be gaining possession, cut New Orleans' lead to 58-53 at halftime.
NOTES: Dallas has scored 100-plus points in 16 of its last 18 games. ... This marked the second meeting of the season for the Hornets and Mavs, with New Orleans winning the first in Dallas in overtime, 99-96. The teams will meet twice more, finishing the regular season with a home-and-home series.