DALLAS (AP) — Paul George had 24 points and eight rebounds and the Indiana Pacers broke open a close game in the third quarter to beat the Dallas Mavericks 103-78 on Thursday night.
George scored 13 points in the third, including eight in a 20-5 run that broke a tie game at halftime.
The first-place Pacers won their fourth straight and have a half-game lead for the second-best record in the Eastern Conference.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 points for Dallas, which remained 1½ games behind the Los Angeles Lakers in the race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Nowitzki and five of his teammates have grown out beards since early February and vowed not to shave until the Mavericks (35-37) got back to .500.
Those unshaven Mavericks will have to put their razors away for at least a few more days as Indiana denied Dallas a chance to even its record for the first time since Dec. 12.
Roy Hibbert had 16 points and 11 rebounds one night after scoring a season-high 28 against Houston, and Tyler Hansbrough added 13 points and nine rebounds off the bench for Indiana, which announced before the game that former All-Star forward Danny Granger will have season-ending left knee surgery.
David West scored seven points in his return for the Pacers after missing six games with a lower back strain.
George Hill hit a 3-pointer to start the second half and break a 41-all halftime tie.
George hit a 21-footer to push Indiana's lead to 49-42. Indiana closed the 20-5 run with a couple of layups from Hill and a jumper from Ian Mahinmi to make it 61-46 midway through the third.
George was 10 of 17 from the field and had six assists and three steals.
Mahinmi closed the third with a dunk off a pass from Orlando Johnson as the Pacers outscored the Mavericks 34-17 in the third.
Vince Carter had 14 points and Darren Collison added 10 or Dallas. The Mavericks shot 38.6 percent (32 of 83) against the NBA's top-scoring defense.
Dallas, which got no closer than 10 points in the fourth, dropped to 3-2 on its six-game homestand. The Mavericks close out their longest home stay of the season Saturday against the Chicago Bulls, who ended Miami's 27-game winning streak Wednesday night.
NOTES: The Mavericks fell to 10-5 in March. ... The Pacers have held 10 straight opponents under 100 points. ... Justin Dentmon made his first appearance for Dallas after signing a 10-day contract Monday.