How it happened: Dallas played a beautiful first half, flowing on offense to the tune of 59 points and 58.5 percent shooting, and clamping down on defense. They had the young, but feisty Utah Jazz out of sorts and seemingly out of the game.
Then came the third quarter, a major sore spot of late for the defending champs. Seven turnovers, 12 points -- two coming on technical free throws -- and an 11-point lead midway through the quarter was history.
Once the Jazz tied it at 71-71 with a 17-6 run to end the third, it was all about will. The Mavs, playing the second game of a back-to-back and coming off consecutive demoralizing losses in Los Angeles could have folded -- and for a moment looked as though they would -- but seized the momentum and stole it late.
Utah had won seven of eight at home and started the fourth strong, but Shawn Marion was relentless with a season-high 22 points, Rodrigue Beaubois poured in a season-high 17 points (on 6-of-9 shooting) and was spectacular -- penetrating, shooting the 3 and defending -- in the fourth quarter and Jason Terry once again wiped away an awful shooting night with a big-time 3 that put Dallas up 90-87 with 2:25 to go.
The Mavs pulled it out with Dirk Nowitzki taking just one shot in the fourth quarter and finishing with just 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting.
Once again, this one came down to the Dallas defense that limited Utah to 38.8 percent shooting. This time defense did spawn offense, as coach Rick Carlisle so often talks about. The Mavs finished the game shooting 52.1 percent despite making just 5-of-20 from beyond the arc and with that near-disastrous third quarter.
What it means: Dallas avoided a second three-game losing skid as well as dropping back to .500. This was a big win after two demoralizing losses in Los Angeles on final possession 3-pointers. Now the Mavs (9-7) have a day off and a great chance to split the four-game road trip as they wrap it up at New Orleans on Saturday.
Play of the game: With 8:23 left in the game and Dallas clawing back, 6-foot-2 guard Rodrigue Beaubois stuffed 6-foot-8 power forward Paul Millsap on the wing, rushed the ball up the floor, dished to Shawn Marion, who got it back to Beaubois, who spun a 3-point attempt around the rim and in to push the Mavs to a 79-75 lead.
Stat of the game: Dallas' 12 points in the third quarter means it has averaged 17 points in its last four third quarters.