NEW YORK -- Dirk Nowitzki and former Nets guard Vince Carter each scored 20 points, and the Dallas Mavericks avoided another late collapse by holding off Brooklyn 98-90 on Friday night.
Dallas led by as many as 20 points, then looked as if it might repeat its performance from its previous game, when it blew a 25-point lead against Memphis. But O.J. Mayo added 17 points as the Mavericks ended their three-game losing streak.
Deron Williams scored 17 of his 24 points in the first half in his first game against Dallas since deciding to remain with the Nets instead of signing with the Mavericks last summer.
Brook Lopez had 19 points and Joe Johnson added 11 as he returned to the Nets after missing the last three games with a foot injury.
Williams led the Nets to a 49-48 halftime lead before they had another dismal third quarter. Dallas outscored Brooklyn 29-14, as the Nets shot just 5 of 17 from the field.
Jae Crowder hit a 3-pointer after a turnover by C.J. Watson, then Mike James hit another behind the arc to give Dallas its biggest lead of the night at 83-63 before Brooklyn started to chip away.
The Nets went on a 17-7 run to cut the lead to 94-90 after Lopez hit a pair of free throws with 37 seconds remaining. Mayo then made one free throw, and Watson missed a layup and failed to tip it in on the second attempt, James was fouled and made one free throw to make it 96-90.
After Williams missed a 3-pointer, Carter got fouled by Mirza Teletovic and put the game away with a pair of free throws to give Dallas a 98-90 lead.
Williams was the Mavericks' top target in free agency, hoping he would be convinced to return to the area where he starred in high school. He said it was a tough decision, deciding to stay with the Nets with a five-year deal worth about $98 million.
He has battled minor injuries throughout the season but has played better of late, though did commit a game-high seven turnovers Friday.