DALLAS – Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion led the Dallas Mavericks to a 115-90 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night, keeping alive hopes of snagging the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference.
With a second straight win, Dallas improved to 55-25. The Los Angeles Lakers were 55-24 — and losers of four straight — going into their game against Oklahoma City later Sunday. Because the Lakers hold the tiebreaker over the Mavericks, Dallas must finish ahead of Los Angeles to get the second spot and home-court advantage in the second round of the playoffs.
Nowitzki had 19 points, and Marion had 18 points and 11 rebounds. Each played only 28 minutes, which should help keep them fresh for the final two games — at Houston on Monday night and at home against New Orleans on Wednesday.
Marcin Gortat had 15 points and 11 rebounds for Phoenix, which lost its second straight and fourth in five games. It also was the 42nd loss of the season for the Suns, clinching their first losing record since 2003-04, their last season before bringing Steve Nash back from the Mavericks.
Jason Kidd returned after a two-game layoff and was sharp from the start, guiding Dallas to its highest-scoring first quarter of the season. The Mavs led 17-4 on the way to a 36-17 advantage after one period.
It wasn't much of a game after that.
Dallas led by as much as 28 before halftime. The Suns had just 39 points at the break. They held the Mavs to just 15 points in the third quarter, but still couldn't make much of a move. Phoenix got within 16 points midway through the fourth quarter, only to see Dallas pull away again.
Peja Stojakovic scored 17 points for the Mavericks, many coming during that final push. Jason Terry also had 17 and J.J. Barea scored 15.
Dallas' big men were productive, too, with Tyson Chandler grabbing 12 rebounds in 19 minutes, and Brendan Haywood having 11 rebounds in 29 minutes.
Terry and Barea seemed to have resolved the differences from their spat during a timeout on Friday night. The guards were on the court together late in the first quarter and did just fine. When Barea made a short jumper, Terry came away smiling and pumping an arm in celebration.
Jared Dudley and Hakim Warrick were the only other Phoenix players in double figures, each having 11 points.
Nash, who'd missed the previous game and three of the last five, had six points and nine assists.
NOTES: Dallas swept the season series against Phoenix, 4-0. ... This was the final road game for the Suns; they went 17-24. They finish the season with home games against Minnesota on Monday night and the Spurs on Wednesday night. ... Dallas has never had a season without at least two games going to overtime. With two games left, they've yet to play a single overtime. ... How active was the refreshed Kidd? He had five points, three assists, two steals and a rebound in the first eight minutes. ... Terry made his 1,000th 3-pointer as a Maverick.