How it happened: The Mavericks got the job done in what Dirk Nowitzki described as a must-win game -- or at least as close as it gets in January.
Dallas handled its business against a struggling Suns team that was playing its fourth game in five nights.
The Mavs built a 20-point lead in the first half, withstood a Suns run in the second and finished strong for the convincing win.
This was another efficient offensive performance for the Mavs, who are averaging more than 110 points over the last eight games. Dallas shot 51.1 percent from the floor and had seven players score at least eight points.
Shawn Marion, who played the 1,000th game of his career, led the Mavs with 18 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Nowitzki matched Marion’s 18 points, surpassing Allen Iverson for 18th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list in the process.
What it means: The Mavs continued to fare well during a favorable stretch of their schedule. They’ve won six of the last eight games to improve to 19-25, which has them even with the Lakers for 10th place in the Western Conference standings. The Mavs remain four games out of the eighth spot.
Play of the game: Nowitzki knocked down a trailer 3 at a time that the Mavs really needed a bucket. The Suns had just sliced the lead to five early in the fourth quarter when Carter found Nowitzki behind the pack at the top of the 3-point arc. Nowitzki stepped into the shot and swished it, celebrating by doubling up his hand gesture of a thumb and two fingers extended.
Stat of the night: The Mavs won a game for the first time this season in which O.J. Mayo didn’t score in double figures. They had been 0-7 in such games.