Sometimes, you have to win NBA games when your bazooka backfires.
The Mavericks’ big gun, Dirk Nowitzki, was shooting blanks Sunday evening. All it did was set them up for one of their most impressive victories this season and prove that their lowest point might have served a valuable purpose.

With the backcourt duo of Devin Harris and Monta Ellis combining for 40 points and making most of the key plays at crunch time, the Mavericks survived Nowitzki’s icy night and knocked out Indiana 105-94 at American Airlines Center.

It completed a season sweep of the Pacers, who have lost four in a row and are locked in a tight battle with Miami for the Eastern Conference’s best record.

The victory sends the Mavericks on a three-game road trip thinking big, even though they still remain locked in a death struggle with Memphis, Phoenix and Tuesday’s opponent, Golden State, for the final three playoff spots in the Western Conference.

Nowitzki knows the gravity of the situation, but he’s encouraged by many things he is seeing out of his team, most particularly how they beat Portland and Indiana – two top-tier playoff teams – after their season-worst losing streak reached three games in Denver on Wednesday.

“I’m proud of the way we responded,” he said. “The Denver loss was a very tough one. After we’d lost two already, I figured we’d respond right there, but we didn’t.

“And maybe we needed that Denver loss to go to the bottom and fight back up. We got a little fortunate in the Portland game and today was a great team effort all the way through.