DALLAS — Dirk Nowitzki said the ball felt flat coming out of his hand.
It turned out to be the perfect trajectory for the Dallas Mavericks.
Nowitzki hit a 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds left, and the Mavericks rallied to beat the Chicago Bulls 100-98 on Saturday.
“This game was kind of like the story of our season,” said Nowitzki, who finished with a season-high 35 points. “Every time someone writes us off, we find a way to come back.”
The Mavericks trailed by 12 in the fourth quarter, but Nowitzki scored Dallas’ final eight points in a 15-1 run over the closing 31/2 minutes.
After Jimmy Butler missed two free throws with 15.9 seconds remaining, Vince Carter drove down the lane and kicked a pass out to Nowitzki, who stepped into a 3-pointer with Luol Deng running at him.
Nowitzki raised both hands in the air and yelled as he headed toward the Dallas bench. Chicago’s Nate Robinson then missed a jumper at the buzzer that would have tied it.
Dallas (36-37) crept within a game of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Utah Jazz for the final playoff spot in the West. The Jazz hosted Brooklyn on Saturday night and the Lakers were at Sacramento.
The Mavericks, who bounced back from a 25-point loss to Indiana, open a four-game road trip against the Lakers on Tuesday night.
Robinson scored 14 of his 25 points in the fourth in Chicago’s first game since ending the Miami Heat’s 27-game winning streak. The reserve guard made all seven of his 3-point attempts.
Carlos Boozer and Deng also had 25 points for the Bulls, who hit a season-high 12 3-pointers.
Chicago’s All-Star center Joakim Noah (right foot) was sidelined for the fourth straight game.