The Mavericks never make it easy on themselves. Not in this generation.

They had to overcome silly turnovers, missed free throws and a general lack of gumption on behalf of the starters during the first three quarters of their 117-112 overtime win against Sacramento on Thursday..

Allow Dirk Nowitzki to explain.

"For some reason down the stretch, it almost looks like we're making plays to lose," he said. "And not making plays to go ahead and win.

"But we finally got the overtime streak over. Hopefully that lifts us up. It seems like we've been playing not to lose instead of playing to win. So we made some mistakes down the stretch we shouldn't make. DC (Darren Collison) threw the ball away. I threw the ball in the 12th row out of the post."

Actually, Nowitzki was being too hard on himself. It was only the fourth row.

But you get the point. These guys don't know how to make it easy on themselves. Vince Carter missed two free throws. O.J. Mayo missed one at the end of regulation that could have won it.

"I could have made it easy,'' Mayo said.

He did his share of the work with 23 points. He and Mayo were strong offensively.

But it was Shawn Marion who carried a huge load late in the game.

It was Marion, giving away a few inches and probably close to 50 pounds to DeMarcus Cousins, guarded the Sacramento big man down the stretch and won as many battles as he lost.

"It wasn't going well with our bigger guys in the game," coach Rick Carlisle said. "Shawn Marion, the way he finished the game was spectacular. He had to guard Cousins. And he made big free throws."

Those came with 22.8 seconds left to put the Mavericks up 115-110, which didn't seal it but put the Mavericks in a command position.