Rapid Reaction: Mavs 93, Kings 91

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings made the Dallas Mavericks sweat again, but the Mavs pulled out a 93-91 win to help boost their playoff hopes.

How it happened: The Mavs managed to hold off the Kings despite monster performances by Kings stars DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay, who have lit it up against Dallas all season.

Gay led all scorers with 32 points on 12-of-18 shooting, his third 30-point performance in three games against the Mavs this season. Cousins added 28 points and 10 rebounds, numbers pretty close to his norm against Dallas.

However, those were the only two Sacramento players to score in double figures. Four Mavs finished in double figures, led by Monta Ellis’ 23 points.

Mavs sixth man Vince Carter scored nine of his 17 points in the fourth quarter, including a 3-pointer with 4:55 remaining that gave the Mavs the lead for good.

Dirk Nowitzki, who arrived in Sacramento on a six-game hot streak since mentor Holger Geschwindner’s arrival from Germany, had an off night. He scored only 15 points on 5-of-17 shooting, leaving him 18 shy of passing Oscar Robertson for 10th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Nowitzki split a pair of free throws with 7.7 seconds remaining, giving the Kings an opportunity to tie or win the game on the final possession.

But Cousins' air-balled a difficult baseline fadeaway at the buzzer, allowing Dallas to breathe a big sigh of relief.

What it means: With their fifth straight road win, the Mavs maintained sole possession of seventh place in the Western Conference. They might have a little separation in the morning, depending on the outcomes of the Memphis Grizzlies-San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder-Phoenix Suns games. The Mavs won three of four games this season against the 27-50 Kings.

Play of the game: Ellis drove the lane for an and-1 layup to stretch the Mavs’ lead to six with 1:51 remaining. Cousins attempted to draw a charge, and the Sleep Train Arena crowd loudly booed the call.

Stat of the night: Carter passed Elgin Baylor for 26th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list when he hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 4:55 remaining.