EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Shawn Bradley played the role usually reserved for his teammates.
The 7-6 Bradley hit a pair of clutch jumpers in the final 5 1/2 minutes as the unbeaten Dallas Mavericks continued the best start in team history with their 10th straight win, 96-88 over the New Jersey Nets.
One of the most exciting games of the young NBA season was tied at 83-83 after Nets guard Lucious Harris drilled a 3-pointer with 5:39 remaining. The Mavericks were forced to inbound with one second on the shot clock on their next possession and found the defensive-minded Bradley, who nailed a jumper to give them the lead for good.
"He was able to score on a play that I just put in and I didn't even think the team remembered the play," Dallas coach Don Nelson said. "Bradley was in the wrong spot but at least he was able to pull up and shoot. It was a big shot. He sure did a good job for us."
The Nets' offense stalled and both teams had several empty possessions before Bradley nailed a long jumper over Dikembe Mutombo with 3:44 to go. Steve Nash added a pair of baskets for a 91-83 cushion with 2:24 remaining.
Nash pumped in 11 of his season high tying 30 points in the fourth quarter and Michael Finley had 20 points and 13 rebounds for the Mavericks, whose 10-game run is the best start in the NBA since Philadelphia won its first 10 games two years ago en route to the NBA Finals.
"They're 10-0 for a reason," Nets guard Jason Kidd said. "The big thing is all three of them don't go big on you. Tonight Steve had a wonderful game, Finley had a great game and Dirk (Nowitzki), probably up to his standards, was OK. Those guys can knock down big shots at any given time and that's what they did."
Kidd, a former Maverick, had 22 points and 13 assists but was stifled in the fourth quarter as he failed to score. The Nets fell for the first time in six home games and lost their fifth straight to Dallas, the only team they failed to beat last season.
"He (Kidd) had a tremendous game, we were able to make it tough for him and the rest of the team," Nash said. It's important for us if we're going to be a good team to be a good defensive team, especially in the fourth quarter."
New Jersey made just 4-of-15 shots in the fourth quarter as Nash blanketed Kidd and Kenyon Martin did not take a shot. Nowitzki scored 10 points in the period, including a 3-pointer with 84 seconds to go for a 94-86 lead.
Nowitzki collected 18 points and 12 rebounds despite 5-of-18 shooting. Nash made 12-of-18 shots and also handed out nine assists as he outdueled Kidd, his former mentor in Phoenix.
"He was really unbelievable," Nowitzki said of Nash. "He pushed the ball for us, made some huge shots and just made big plays at the end of the game. He is the reason why we won."
Dallas led for most of the game and by as many as nine points in the first half. Kerry Kittles scored seven points as New Jersey used a 9-0 run for a 40-40 tie with just over three minutes left in the first half. Nash had five points in an 8-0 burst before Kidd beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer that cut the halftime deficit to 48-43.
Nash converted a layup with just over five minutes left in the third quarter as Dallas built a 65-56 lead. But Kidd nailed a 3-pointer to trigger a 17-2 surge that closed the period. Kidd scored 10 points in the run, including a step-back 3-pointer at the buzzer.
"We did a great job in the third quarter of attacking and making shots," Nets coach Byron Scott said. "In the fourth quarter, for whatever reason, we just didn't do a good job. We were a little passive outside offensively, just catching the ball and holding the ball out instead of looking to attack the zone."
"It looked bleak going into the fourth quarter," Nelson said. "I told the guys I was going to give them one shot for them to give their best for the next eight or nine minutes and try to win. Good things started to happen for us, though it was a struggle."
Kittles finished with 21 points, including three 3-pointers. But the Nets' starting frontcourt of Mutombo, Martin and Richard Jefferson combined for just 22 points and 20 rebounds. Jefferson finished with six points as New Jersey fell to 0-3 when he fails to reach double figures.
The Nets committed 19 turnovers, leading to 26 points for the Mavs.