Guerry Smith / AssociatedPress
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Dirk Nowitzki scored 11 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter and the Dallas Mavericks beat the New Orleans Pelicans 100-97 Wednesday night.
Nowitzki gave Dallas the lead with a free throw to make the score 98-97 with 32.3 seconds left. He then got a piece of Eric Gordon's driving floater, grabbed the rebound and hit two more free throws with 8 seconds left.
The Pelicans' Ryan Anderson missed an open 3-pointer that would have tied it with 2 seconds left.
Reserve Vince Carter had 15 points for Dallas and Monta Ellis added 14 points.
Jrue Holiday had a season-high 26 points for the Pelicans, who played without injured forward Anthony Davis for the second consecutive game. Al-Farouq Aminu had a career-high 21 rebounds and a season-high 16 points. Anderson added 18 points and 13 rebounds.
The Pelicans, who outscored opponents by 25 points in the second half while going 3-0 on their recently concluded road trip, tried to pull away in the third quarter with an 8-0 run to go up 73-65 late in the quarter. But the Mavericks answered with a 10-2 spurt, getting 3-pointers from Jae Crowder and Carter.
Dallas stayed hot at the start of the fourth. Nowitzki scored on a turnaround to give the Mavericks a 79-77 lead, converted a 3-point play on a tough shot and hit a free throw after the Pelicans were called for a defensive 3-second violation as Dallas went ahead 83-77.
That lead didn't last long. Holiday sank a 3-pointer to tie the score at 86 with 6:49 left.
Dallas went back up 91-86 on Carter's basket and a wide open 3-pointer from Jose Calderon, but the Pelicans responded with a field goal by Holiday, a drive by Aminu and two free throws from Anderson to go ahead 92-91.
Nowitzki hit a face-up midrange shot to give Dallas a 97-94 lead before Holiday sank a long 3-pointer to tie the score at 97, setting up Nowitzki's finish.
Without Davis, New Orleans could not extend its winning streak to four games for the first time since Jan. 5-11 of 2013. Davis sustained a non-displaced fracture of fifth metacarpal when he hit his hand on the rim in the first quarter of a 103-99 win against the New York Knicks on Sunday. New Orleans announced on Tuesday that Davis would be out four-to-six weeks. He was averaging 18.8 points and 10.2 rebounds.
In Davis' absence, Aminu was more aggressive than usual. Averaging 5.5 points and 5.5 rebounds, he had a double-double by halftime (10 points, 11 rebounds) of his first in a full game this season. He finished the half with a soaring dunk off a nice pass from Holiday and a reverse layup around Nowitzki.
The first half was close all the way. The Pelicans' largest run was 6-0, and the Mavericks' biggest spurt was 5-0.
Neither team led by double digits at any time in the game.
NOTES: Davis talked to reporters before the game for the first time since his injury. 'Of course it's frustrating,' he said. 'You want to be on the floor. But at the same time, there's nothing you can do about it.' . Calderon started for Dallas after being listed as day to day with a bruised right ankle. . Nowitzki missed two free throws after hitting an NBA-best 86 of 91 entering the game. . New Orleans, which fell to 9-9, has not been two games above .500 since starting 2-0 in 2011-12.