Maybe, just maybe, the rumors of the Dallas Mavericks' demise have been greatly exaggerated.
In less than a week, the Mavericks' distance from the Western Conference playoffs has gone from 6 to 3 1/2 games, following Dallas' 102-99 win at Detroit Friday night.
The Mavs won despite Shawn Marion being out with a thigh contusion and despite blowing a 15-point with less than 10 minutes to play.
O.J. Mayo led the Mavs with 22 points, but despite being held to just 12 on the game, Dirk Nowitzki came through when it mattered.
Dallas blistered the Pistons with shooting from three-point range, including four combined from Mike James and Vince Carter to start the fourth quarter and push the Mavs' lead to 88-73 with 9:44 remaining.
Despite only making three field goals over the next 7 1/2 minutes, Dallas still led 95-86 before Detroit went on an 8-0 run to cut the lead to one with 3:35 left. Then, after Mayo could only split a pair of free throws, Khris Middleton capped off a 10-point quarter that gave Detroit a 97-96 lead.
But despite only scoring eight so far, Nowitzki knew what to do, hitting his traditional fadeaway with 2:08 left and pushing th elead back to three 38 seconds later.
Charlie Villanueva cut the lead to one with six seconds left, but Darren Collison made two free throws, and Villanueva could not hit his third three-pointer of the quarter as time ran out.