Not so fast.
Jason Terry scored 25 points, Tyson Chandler had a season-high 23 and 13 rebounds and the Mavericks needed a late surge to beat Washington 105-99 on Saturday night for their fifth consecutive victory.
The Wizards, who have lost five straight and 15 of 16, tied it at 97 on Jordan Crawford's jumper with 1:36 left. But Chandler scored on a tip and Dirk Nowitzki and Terry each hit two free throws to help Dallas regain control.
"You're up nine in the fourth early -- that's a situation where you kind of want to go up 15, ice your knees and get on the bus. It didn't happen, but at the end of the day we want wins," Terry said.
Nowitzki added 21 points for Dallas, who have won 15 of 16 overall. Dallas improved to 8-1 in its last nine road games in the opener of a three-game trip.
"Obviously we were disappointed in the way we finished that ballgame, but hey, we got out of here with a win," Terry said. "This is a stretch where we have games where, let's be blunt, we should win."
John Wall had 24 points for Washington, Nick Young scored 14 and Rashard Lewis finished with 13, but it was Wall's missed free throws that cost the Wizards a chance for a surprising victory.
The Mavericks led 95-86 with four minutes left, but Wall responded with three straight layups. He scored and was fouled by Jason Kidd on successive plays, but both times missed the free throws.
"We didn't do a good job slowing the game down there when we had some leads," Nowitzki said. "We just kept on chucking, missed a couple shots, put them in transition and they were right back in it."
The Wizards missed 10 of their 16 foul shots, and whenever the game could have been theirs -- suddenly it wasn't.
"We shoot free throws -- we win the game," Washington coach Flip Saunders said.
Shawn Marion had 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Mavericks, who improved to 42-16, second in the Western Conference to San Antonio. Kidd, who turns 38 next month, had 14 assists -- 11 in the first half.
The Mavericks were a little rusty, playing in just their second game in nine days due to the All-Star break. Chandler had three dunks in an 11-0 run that got Dallas going and gave the Mavericks a 57-44 lead with 28.5 seconds left in the first half.
"I really wanted to get involved, because coming after the All-Star break, I know it's the stretch now where we've really got to get focused and make our playoff push," Chandler said.
Wall connected on a 34-footer to cut it to 59-49 at the break, and the Wizards scored the first nine points of the second half. But Dallas quickly regained a 10-point lead.
It was the first time that Washington's Josh Howard faced Dallas since he and three others, who are no longer with the team, were traded for Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson on Feb. 13, 2010. It also was the first home game for Mike Bibby, Maurice Evans and Crawford, acquired from Atlanta on Wednesday.
Howard, who had nine points in 29 minutes, felt soreness in his surgically repaired left knee, Saunders said.
NOTES: Haywood had four points in 14 minutes. Stevenson did not score in two minutes. ... Washington has turned over its roster so drastically since the trade that Stevenson and Haywood played with just three of the 15 current Wizards: G Young, C JaVale McGee and F Andray Blatche. ... Blatche (sprained right hip) and F Al Thornton (sprained right hip) missed their second straight games. ... Butler, who made the trip, was exercising his injured right patella tendon on a bicycle in the locker room. ... Evans was called for a flagrant foul on Marion late in the third quarter.