Joe Johnson thought he had it, and he grimaced in disappointment.
The Nets' go-to guy -- the man who was 7-for-8 the previous two seasons in knocking down shots with his team trailing by three or fewer points and less than 10 seconds left -- had just let another potential game-winner fly off his fingertips.
He figured this one would go down like so many others have since he first put on a Nets uniform. So as the ball sailed through the air, he had visions of his team eking out a gritty win against one of the Western Conference's top teams -- in a game in which the Nets were without the services of Deron Williams (sore left side) and Kevin Garnett (rest).
"Man, it looked good," Johnson said. "Felt good."
Instead, it was just a bit short, clanking off the rim with a second left and giving the Mavericks new life.
Dallas took supreme advantage, too. Dirk Nowitzki's three-pointer with 34.8 seconds left in overtime helped send the Mavericks to a 96-88 win over the Nets at Barclays Center Monday night.
"The thing is over the last couple of years, my percentage has been so high in these situations that now I think I'm probably [0-for-4] in game-winners this year," Johnson said. "I am going to keep the confidence and keep stepping up in these situations, trying to make plays."
Brook Lopez, starting at center with Garnett out rather than coming off the bench, as has been the case recently, had a brilliant first quarter but fizzled out after that.
Lopez led the Nets (16-18) with 22 points and 13 rebounds, fueling their 35-point first-quarter outburst with 18 points and seven rebounds before becoming a non-factor for the better part of the game's final three quarters. He sank only two of his final nine shot attempts.
"I didn't want to try to force anything," Lopez said. "I did a couple of times."
Jarrett Jack had 20 points and 10 assists and Johnson added 18 points and seven rebounds for the Nets, who lost their shooting touch in overtime. The Nets shot 1-for-4 in OT and the Mavs were 5-for-9.
The 25-footer by Nowitzki, who had 15 points and seven rebounds, sent him past Moses Malone into seventh on the NBA's all-time scoring list. But that was made possible by Monta Ellis.
After Jack's tough pull-up jumper over Ellis with 26.6 seconds left in regulation gave the Nets an 82-80 edge, Ellis was fouled by Mason Plumlee as he drove to the basket. Ellis hit both free throws with 10.5 seconds left to tie it.
"I felt like I was kind of thrown into him a little bit," Plumlee said. "But we had enough chances to make plays . . . We had our chances and they won. They played well."
Johnson nearly sent the Nets home winners in regulation. Everyone in the building knew the ball was going to him, and Nets coach Lionel Hollins had a few options on tap before settling on what he wanted Johnson to do.
Running isolation while being guarded by former Net Richard Jefferson, Johnson took a few dribbles toward the top of the key and fired, only to be bummed out that it didn't drop. That foiled the Nets' chance to move to 3-13 against teams with .500 or better records.
"I don't think I had to ask for it. It was kind of a given," Johnson said. "So I understood what we were trying to do. He had drew up a couple of plays, then he was like, 'You know what? Forget it. Just make a play.' And that's what I tried to do."
Dallas simply made a few more.