Rapid Reaction: Mavs 95, Knicks 85

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How it happened: The Mavericks don't like it if it's not difficult. And, boy, did they turn a runaway into a nail-biter. But Dirk Nowitzki saved the day with 11 points in the final 4:34, and a Jason Kidd 3-pointer -- his third of the game -- put things on ice.

The Mavs were rolling, leading 66-47 after a Nowitzki and-1 midway through the third quarter for a 16-3 burst to start the period. But it wasn't over, even though Dallas led by 14 entering the fourth quarter.

New York, with Jeremy Lin and Tyson Chandler on the bench, scored 15 consecutive points over the first seven-plus minutes of the quarter. Steve Novak's 3s -- four altogether -- again put a scare into Dallas, and old foe Baron Davis led the charge.

Nowitzki had to take a seat early in the fourth after picking up a technical foul when he exploded at not getting a foul called on a drive to the bucket. Nowitzki was furious and nearly got the heave-ho from referee Eric Delan. He didn't, and coach Rick Carlisle sat him down. When Nowitzki returned, he was locked in, draining the big fallaway as the AAC crowd sat on its hands fearing the worst.

Dallas regained command quickly with a 14-0 run.

In the first half, Dallas' French connection was superb. Rodrigue Beaubois was as aggressive as he's been all season, dashing to the basket and finishing with swooping layups. He had 16 points -- 12 in the first half -- but his four late in the third quarter were also big to keep the lead in double digits.

Ian Mahinmi, starting in place of the injured Brendan Haywood, was active at both ends and productive. He finished with nine points on 4-of-5 shooting and six rebounds.

Kidd (15 points and six assists) was also integral in this much-needed victory after Monday's gut-punch at Oklahoma City.

Amare Stoudemire led the Knicks with 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting. But the other superstar was a virtual no-show. Carmelo Anthony had six points on 2-of-12 shooting.

Lin was arguably the third-best point guard on the floor behind Kidd and Beaubois. The former Mavs summer league hand finished with 14 points and seven assists. Lin had 28 points and 14 rebounds in the Knicks' win in New York a couple of weeks ago.

The Mavs' 37-20 lead with 8:33 left in the second quarter dwindled to six at halftime, with four consecutive points from Anthony to end the half, including a fastbreak layup with 1.3 seconds left.

Nowitzki opened the third quarter with three buckets in the first 2:39, plus a Marion flip-shot to build the lead back to 12 at 58-46.

What it means: The Mavs avoided taking a losing skid on the road for their lone back-to-back-to-back of the season starting Thursday at Phoenix. Instead, Dallas improved to 23-17 and now has a chance to build back some wins as it caps this nine-games-in-12-nights stretch against three teams with losing records (Suns, Kings, Warriors). The Mavs are 2-4 on this stretch.

Bold play of the game: Nowitzki, remarkably, had to save the day, and his fallaway with 4:34 left in the game did it. The Mavs had not scored in the fourth quarter, and the Knicks had just reeled off 15 consecutive points to take the lead. Nowitzki's swish got the Mavs back in front 79-78 and settled things down.

Stat of the game: Mahinmi, thrust into the starting role, played former Mav Tyson Chandler, who received his championship ring before the game, to a standstill. Mahinmi had nine points, six rebounds and three steals in 27 minutes. Chandler finished with six points and eight rebounds with one blocked shot and one steal.