HOUSTON (AP) — Dirk Nowitzki scored 31 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, to lead the Dallas Mavericks to a 111-104 win over the Houston Rockets on Monday night.
Houston cut the lead to six after a 3-pointer by Aaron Brooks with about 3 ½ minutes left, but Nowitzki knocked down consecutive baskets to push the Mavericks lead to 107-97.
Dwight Howard had 29 points and 15 rebounds for the Rockets, who were playing their second straight game without leading scorer James Harden, who was out with a sprained left ankle.
Dallas started the final period by using a 9-4 run powered by three 3-pointers, including two from Jae Crowder, to push the lead to 95-82.
Jeremy Lin, who has been out since Dec. 13 because of back spasms, scored 20 and Chandler Parsons had 21 for Houston.
Dallas outscored Houston 17-10 over the last five minutes of the third quarter to stretch a one-point lead into an 86-78 advantage entering the fourth quarter. Vince Carter scored seven points during that time and Crowder added five.
Monta Ellis had 18 points for Dallas, Carter had 16 and Jose Calderon added 15 points with five assists.
With the speedy Harden out, the Rockets relied on their inside game and outscored the Mavericks 60-32 in the paint. But the Mavericks had the advantage from 3-point range, where they made 11 to Houston's seven 3-pointers.
A 15-1 spurt by Dallas to open that second half erased a seven-point halftime deficit and gave the Mavericks a 65-58 lead with eight minutes left in the third quarter. Nowitzki led the way in that stretch, making seven points including a 3-pointer. The Rockets came out flat to start the third, missing six shots and turning the ball over twice in the first few minutes of the quarter.
The Rockets finally snapped out of their offensive slump after that, using a 10-4 run to get within 69-68 with about 5 ½ minutes left in the quarter. Parsons made four quick points near the end of it before Howard put an exclamation point on the run with a nifty sideways alley-oop dunk.
Houston led by one point about six minutes before halftime and used an 11-2 run over the next four minutes to extend its lead to 52-42. Howard got things going in that span by scoring six straight points and capped the run with a free throw.
The Rockets led 57-50 at halftime.
NOTES: Houston announced during the game that guard Patrick Beverley had surgery on Monday to repair a fracture in his right hand and will be out 4-6 weeks. ... Calderon has scored more than 10 points in 18 of his last 20 games.