SALT LAKE CITY -- How it happened: One of the Mavericks' more uninspired performances through 3 1/2 quarters turned into an incredible exhibition of perseverance in Utah.
The Mavs rallied from an 81-72 hole in the final five minutes of regulation as Dirk Nowitzki finally got some help. The previously ice-cold Jason Terry knocked down a pair of 3-pointers, and Vince Carter hit two gargantuan late bombs, one from the corner to get Dallas within one point, 87-86, and then from the right wing for an 89-87 lead with 8.5 seconds to go.
Both teams hit big shots in the first two overtimes, with Nowitzki hitting the game-tying 3-pointer in the first OT to give him 38 points and force a second overtime, but only after Al Jefferson narrowly missed a putback attempt to win it at the buzzer.
The overtime periods were filled with haymakers as the teams took turns taking the lead, only to have the momentum stolen right back.
For most of regulation, it was the Dirk show for Dallas. He had 20 of the team's 42 points at the half, while Carter was next in line with 12. The supporting cast finally got into the game in the nick of time to save this one from certain defeat.
The Mavs rolled with the same five throughout the first two overtimes with Terry, Jason Kidd, Carter, Nowitzki and Ian Mahinmi. For the third, Carlisle opted to sit Kidd, who logged 46 minutes after going 39 on Sunday at the Lakers, for Delonte West, whose strange first-half finger-jab to the head of Gordon Hayward seemed eons ago.
Fatigue finally seemed to take hold of the Mavs in the third overtime. While the shots started caroming off the rim, the Jazz kept hitting big ones, and the biggest rained down from the hands of Devin Harris, with his fifth from downtown giving Utah a 118-115 lead. Nowitzki missed a 3 at the other end, and Jefferson scored for a 120-115 lead.
West, the lone Mav with fresh legs after playing just 22 minutes in regulation, drained a straightaway 3 to make it 120-118. Then wouldn't you know, the Jazz sealed it with a flying offensive rebound from little-known DeMarre Carroll. His board set up Millsap inside, where Nowitzki had no choice but to foul. However, Millsap kept the door open by missing the second free throw with 14.9 to go for a 121-118 lead.
Terry's 3-pointer to tie was on line but short. Dallas retained possession under its own basket. An absolutely exhausted Nowitzki got the inbounds pass and misfired on an awkward 3-point attempt from the corner.
The Jazz came away with the rebound, and Harris salted the long night away with a pair of free throws. West added a final 3-pointer, but the Jazz and their playoff hopes prevailed.
Nowitzki finished with 40 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Terry ended up with 27 points, with 14 coming in the three overtimes. Carter had 18, and West finished with 16.
Harris had his best game against his old team with 23 points. Jefferson had 28, and Hayward had 24.
What it means: The Mavs (34-28) end the disappointing four-game road trip with consecutive losses and in seventh place in the West standings with four games to go. Houston and Golden State close out the home schedule Wednesday and Friday.
Bold play of the game: Millsap goes untouched above the rim and slams home Hayward's off-balance shot in the final seconds of regulation to force overtime. It was the Jazz's 12th offensive rebound of the game, and without it, those crazy 15 minutes of OT would not have been necessary.
Stat of the game: Shawn Marion finished with two rebounds, snapping his five-game run of double-digit rebounds. He didn't play in the fourth quarter or any of the overtimes.