Houston, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Dirk Nowitzki netted 31 points and moved into sole possession of 13th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list as the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Houston Rockets 111-104 on Monday night.
"We tried showing and coming back. We tried staying on there. We tried running at him. Nothing seemed to work," Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said of the team's defense on Nowitzki.
Nowitzki passed Alex English when his knocked down a jumper at the 11:09 mark of the third quarter.
"Alex was an unbelievable player in this league, so it was a tremendous honor, but I'm actually more happy with this win," Nowitzki said.
Monta Ellis had 18 points, five assists and five rebounds for Dallas, which snapped its brief two-game slide.
Dwight Howard tallied 29 points and 15 boards for the Rockets, who have alternated wins and losses over their last eight tilts. Chandler Parsons scored 21 points in defeat.
The Rockets led 57-50 at the break, but Dallas opened the third quarter on a 15-1 run to seize control of the contest. Nowitzki had seven points during the surge, including a layup to cap it and give the Mavs a 65-58 cushion with 8:07 left in the period.
Dallas headed into the fourth with an 86-78 advantage and led by as many as 15 in that frame, but an Aaron Brooks 3 whittled that deficit to 103-97 with 3:38 to play.
Nowitzki, though, nailed a pair of clutch jumpers on consecutive trips down the floor and the Rockets could never get within less than six the rest of the way.
Houston led 26-20 after a quarter of play.
Dallas shot 50.6 percent (40-of-79) from the floor and made 11-of-22 from beyond the arc ... James Harden missed his second straight game with an ankle injury ... Jeremy Lin had 20 points for Houston.