Rapid Reaction: Mavericks 114, Knicks 111

How it happened: Jason Kidd’s return to Dallas dominated the pregame hype, but Vince Carter is the NBA geezer folks left the American Airlines Center buzzing about.

Just barely. The Dallas Mavericks survived a 21-10 run by the New York Knicks over a span of five-plus minutes down the stretch to pull out the win.

The 35-year-old Carter keyed the Mavs' win over the Knicks with a turn-back-the-clock kind of performance. Carter poured in 14 of his season-high 25 points in the fourth quarter.

Dallas' kiddie backcourt came up big, too, although the Mavs certainly could have used Kidd’s clutch savvy during crunch time.

Point guard Darren Collison, who has had a roller-coaster ride as Kidd’s replacement, had 19 points and seven assists. O.J. Mayo, whose Mavs tenure is off to a spectacular start, scored a team-high 27 points on 10-of-17 shooting.

Small forward Shawn Marion, the only 2011 title-team starter wearing home white in this game (with Kidd and Tyson Chandler wearing road blues), also deserves a lot of credit. With help, Marion hassled Knicks star Carmelo Anthony into a 7-of-16 shooting, seven-turnover night.

Anthony finished with 23 points, just shy of his season average, but he came up short on a potential go-ahead jumper with seconds remaining and Marion in his face.

What it means: The Mavs needed a win like this one. Heck, they needed any win after losing five of the previous seven games, but it’s especially sweet to beat the team with the NBA’s best record. The victory boosts the 7-6 Mavs’ record above .500 again while dropping the Knicks to 8-2. Closing out a team of the Knicks’ quality could be a huge confidence boost to the remodeled Mavs.

Play of the game: It wasn’t quite vintage Vinsanity -- because he didn’t finish with a high-flying, highlight-reel flush -- but Carter’s baseline drive for an and-1 bucket was a thing of beauty. He blew by fellow '90s draft product Kidd and got hacked by J.R. Smith before finishing the reverse layup. The free throw stretched the Mavs’ lead to seven with 9:43 remaining.

Stat of the night: Kidd had a 17-point, 6-rebound, 5-assist, 5-steal night. His points total exceeded his 2011-12 season high by two. That 15-point outing coincidentally came in the Knicks' trip to Dallas last season.