HOUSTON _ It was New Year's Eve and the Mavericks pulled out their champagne poppers at just the right moment.
Too bad they were all duds.
The Mavericks made the mistake of getting in a shooting contest with the Houston Rockets, who are just better at that game. Six consecutive missed jump shots late in the game doomed the Mavericks to a 97-94 loss at Toyota Center.
The Mavericks' cold spell left them down by 95-89, but they still had a chance to tie it at the end when they benefited from a technical foul on Shane Battier. Dirk Nowitzki's free throw made it 97-94.
Both teams missed, then the Mavericks inbounded with 8 seconds left. The ball whipped around from Jason Terry to Dirk Nowitzki and finally to Jason Kidd, who got a terrific look at a 3-pointer, which rimmed out just before the buzzer.
The Mavericks had trailed by as much as 14 in the second half but fought back to tie it at 89.
Both teams went frigid from there. They both got a little happy with jump shots and nobody could buy one until Shane Battier connected from the corner with 2:08 left to put the Rockets up 92-89. It was the beginning of the Mavericks' cold stretch, which in the end was too much to overcome.