Dirk Nowitzki led the Dallas Mavericks to a 122-117 win over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, the German's 34 points allowing the visitors to strengthen their position in the race for the final play-off spot in the West. Nowitzki had 15 points in a decisive third quarter to help give the Mavericks (39-25) a five-game advantage over the Suns, who lost their fifth in a row. "The guys had a big-game mentality," the Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said.
"They came in here to fight and find a way. And that's what they did." Steve Nash had 23 points and 13 assists and Shaquille O'Neal added 21 and eight rebounds for the Suns. Meanwhile in other action, the Utah Jazz stormed past the Indiana Pacers 112-100 for their 12th consecutive win. Mehmet Okur led the way with 24 points while Paul Millsap had 22 points and nine rebounds for the Jazz, who forced 22 turnovers and hit 28-of-32 free-throw attempts.
Tim Duncan scored 18 points and pulled down 11 rebounds to lead the San Antonio Spurs to a 100-86 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats, bringing their franchis record-winning streak to an end at six. Tony Parker and Roger Mason added 21 points each for the Spurs, who pulled away with a run late in the fourth quarter to seal the victory. Larry Hughes scored a season-high 39 points and Nate Robinson added 32 as the New York Knicks secured an important 120-112 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, ending a six-game losing streak on the road in the process.
The Oklahoma City Thunder scraped past the Sacramento Kings 99-98. Spencer Hawes had a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Kings to the narrow victory. * With agencies