WASHINGTON -- The Dallas Mavericks don't win often when power forward Dirk Nowitzki's scoring touch goes missing and the team collectively clanks shot after shot.
They overcame those problems Wednesday, however, thanks to guard Monta Ellis' star turn.
Ellis scored 23 points and forward Vince Carter added 13 as the Mavericks finished off their perfect three-game road trip with an 87-78 win over the Washington Wizards.
The Mavericks (19-13) made 21 of 23 free throws while earning their fourth consecutive win overall and their eighth victory in a row over the Wizards.
Washington (14-15) led 61-59 entering the fourth quarter of the back-and-forth contest that featured 17 lead changes, including seven in the final period. Carter's 3-pointer and center Brandan Wright's hook shot put the Mavericks in front for good with 4:05 left.
Ellis' jumper capped the 9-0 spurt, and Dallas led 79-74 with 2:14 remaining. Ellis made six consecutive free throws over the final 18 seconds, and he hit nine of 10 overall.
"I thought tonight was Monta Ellis' best game for us," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "He had such a great command of the game offensively. He was under control, he was finding people. ... His string of free throws to end the game was a decisive factor."
Nowitzki failed to score in double figures for the first time this season, finishing with nine points on 3-of-14 shooting from the field. The Mavericks star limped off the court inside the first minute after rolling his left ankle on a defender's foot while coming down off a jump shot. He briefly left the game to have the ankle re-taped, but he returned later in the quarter.
Ellis, who joined Dallas as a free agent in the offseason, scored 16 points in the second half.
"We came on this road trip with a goal to go 3-0," he said after the Mavericks swept the Chicago Bulls, the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Wizards. "We did that. We did whatever was necessary the whole road trip. It's just showing that we're getting better."
Washington point guard John Wall scored 22 points and played the entire second half despite suffering a cut above his right eye in the first quarter.
Forward Trevor Booker had 10 points and a career-high 19 rebounds for the Wizards, who scored 36 points in the second half.
"We just couldn't make a shot all day, really," Wall said. "I think we were doing a great job defensively. They were just the ones making shots down the stretch."
Both teams struggled offensively, shooting under 40 percent from the field.
Dallas matched its season-low point total after scoring at least 100 in eight straight games. Washington went 5-for-24 on 3-point attempts, and Dallas was 6-for-24.
"It was an ugly game. I think we set the NBA back a couple years today, for sure," Nowitzki cracked. "It was a grind-out-type game. ... We got timely baskets, and I thought down the stretch in the fourth quarter we held them to 17 points, and that's the winner right there."
Guard Jose Calderon had 11 points, and Wright scored 10 for the Mavericks.
Center Marcin Gortat had 12 points for the Wizards, and guard Bradley Beal scored 10.
"Whenever you can hold a great scorer like that down to a minimum, you like your chances," Beal said of Washington's defense on Nowitzki. "Although we did that, they had a few other guys that stepped up and knocked down some big shots. Monta had a big night."
The Wizards failed in their latest attempt to move above .500 for the first time since Oct. 31, 2009, when they were 2-1. Wall has never played with a winning record during his four NBA seasons.
Spurred on by Nowitzki's return, Dallas closed the first period with a 22-9 spurt for a 25-20 lead before a crowd of 15,713.
Wall exited late in the first quarter but didn't stay out long. The speedster darted and spun around defenders in the second, scoring eight points in the quarter. His fast-break layup in the final seconds sent Washington into halftime leading 42-39 despite the Wizards shooting 1-for-11 from beyond the arc.
The Mavericks won the first meeting with the Wizards 105-95 in Dallas on Nov. 12. Washington's last win in the series came in Dallas on Oct. 27, 2009.
NOTES: Mavericks F Dirk Nowitzki last scored in single digits on April 7, when he had six points against the Portland Trail Blazers. ... The teams met in Washington on New Year's Day for the second consecutive season. ... Wizards rookie G Glen Rice Jr., who turned 23 on Wednesday, had stitches removed from his surgically repaired right wrist Tuesday. He is expected to miss another one to three weeks. ... Dallas opens a three-game homestand against the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, the same day Washington hosts the Toronto Raptors.