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Rapid Reaction: Mavs 103, Jazz 97

How it happened: The Mavs jumped out to a 25-point lead and managed to keep the Jazz from pulling off an epic comeback.

It looked like this clash of Western Conference contenders would be a laugher after the Mavs made 11 of their first 12 shots, including seven of eight from 3-point range, to take a 29-4 lead. But Deron Williams (34 points, six assists) willed the Jazz, the NBA comeback kings this season, back into the game.

It was a classic cliffhanger down the stretch, with the Mavs and Jazz swapping big shots. Williams’ and-1 drive and free throw tied it up with 4:31 to go and sent Dallas defensive anchor Tyson Chandler to the bench with six fouls. But the Jazz, who have already won eight games after trailing by double figures, never seized the lead.

Jason Terry, who had a terrible first three quarters, came up big in the clutch. He had 12 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter, including a contested baseline jumper and 3-pointer on consecutive possessions not long after Utah tied it up. And Terry hit the dagger, a 3-pointer from the corner with 7.6 seconds remaining after Dirk Nowitzki drove and dished.

Dirk delivered all night long. He got the Mavs going by lighting it up for 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting in the first quarter and finished with a remarkably efficient 31 points (10-12 FG) and 15 rebounds.

Maybe this should have been a blowout win for the Mavs. It turned into a thriller with the home team hanging on.

What it means: The Mavs’ winning streak was extended to 12 games, matching the Spurs’ run the Mavs ended for the longest streak in the league this season. The win pulled the Mavs (19-4) within a half-game of San Antonio for the best record in the NBA – and Southwest Division. It’s the second time in eight days the Mavs beat the Jazz, the West’s No. 4 seed at the moment. And coach Rick Carlisle will have plenty to complain about after reviewing the film of the final three and a half quarters.

Play of the game: It was actually a pair of highlight-reel plays by Tyson Chandler, but they happened within a span of seven seconds in the first quarter. Chandler swatted a Paul Millsap layup attempt hard off the glass to start, with the ricochet serving as an outlet pass to get Jason Kidd in transition. Kidd kicked the ball up on the left wing to DeShawn Stevenson, who made a patient move to drive baseline and threw a lob pass when the help came. Chandler soared for the two-hand slam, capping the Mavs’ 17-0 run in spectacular fashion.

Stat of the night: Nowitzki’s 31-point, 15-rebound performance was the 350th double-double of his career.