MEMPHIS _ The Mavericks pulled out their 50th victory of the season Wednesday night and they did it in spite of themselves.
It was appropriate that Dirk Nowitzki, whose era is defined by 50-win seasons, knocked in a 15-foot jumper and four free throws late in overtime that secured a 106-102 stress test over the Memphis Grizzlies at FedEx Forum.
It pushed the Mavericks' record to 50-25, their 10th consecutive season with at least 50 wins. Only four other NBA franchises have had such a run of regular-season success: The Lakers (1980-91), the Celtics (1959-68) and the Spurs (2000-2009).
Nowitzki, like all his teammates, was going through a miserable night until he hit the Mavericks' last eight points, including two 3-pointers, to force the overtime.
Then, he willed them to the finish line in the extra period.
It took every bit of gas the Mavericks had in the tank, which probably does not bode well for tonight against Orlando at American Airlines Center.
But it was worth it to get a win in Memphis for the first time after three consecutive defeats in Elvisland.
In the overtime, the Mavericks never trailed after Jason Terry and Jason Kidd got steals that led to buckets and a 94-90 lead. It went to 99-95 when Terry hit a baseline jumper with 2:20 to go.
But when O.J. Mayo hit a triple, the Grizzlies were within 99-98 and the Mavericks had to execute or waste their late-game rally.
Nowitzki's 15-footer from the key with 24 seconds left made it a three-point lead and though Zach Randolph kept hitting free throws for the, so did Nowitzki as they hung on for dear life and an even more precious win as the race for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference continues to see them in the lead.
Down 88-79 in regulation, the Mavericks scored the next nine points, the last two on a couple of Dirk Nowitzki 3-pointers. After a second half when they couldn't hit the ocean from the boat, they suddenly couldn't miss.
Mike Conley, who had a big game for Memphis, scored on a jumper, but Nowitzki made a tough, fallaway jumper from 16 feet with 45 seconds left to tie it.
The Grizzlies missed three shots, including an airball at the buzzer, and the Mavericks were grateful to be alive for another five minutes.