WASHINGTON -- Forget playing at their previous championship winning level: The scuffling Dallas Mavericks entered the New Year simply in need of a victory. Thanks to a dunking Vince Carter, a shot-making Dirk Nowitzki -- and playing the owners of the NBA's worst record -- the wish came true.
Carter scored 23 points and Nowitzki's offense keyed a 22-6 third quarter run as the Dallas Mavericks snapped a six-game losing streak with a 103-94 win over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night at the Verizon Center.
During its losing skid, the Mavericks (13-19) lost by an average of 19.1 points and ended 2012 with 21- and 26-point defeats, leading coach Rick Carlisle to ponder suspensions as a motivator.
Their first game in 2013 appeared headed in the same direction, though ultimately, no harsh measures were required. Down 14 points in the first half, the Mavericks made 14 of 21 shots in the third quarter, outscoring the Wizards 35-19 en route to their first win since Dec. 18.
"It's just important to win that game and get off the schneid," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "It's been a rough two weeks."
Shawn Marion had 11 points and 14 rebounds while O.J. Mayo and Darren Collison each scored 15 for the Mavericks, who made 10 of 22 3-point attempts and had their entire starting lineup score in double figures. Dallas swept the season series has won six straight over Washington.
In addition to the overall losing skid, the Mavericks had dropped six straight on the road.
"That's what a road win feels like," the 14-year veteran Nowitzki said. "It's been a while. I don't remember losing six games in a row before in my career. It probably happened, but I don't remember it, it's been so long.
"The locker room is miserable. The coaches are miserable when we lose, so it definitely is one we wanted to get."
In his fifth game since returning from arthroscopic right knee surgery, Nowitzki scored in double figures for the first time this season with 11 points in 17 minutes off the bench. The perennial All-Star entered the game shooting 32.4 percent from the field, but finished 5 of 7 against Washington with three baskets coming in the third quarter. Nowitzki's 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter gave Dallas its largest lead at 99-84.
"We wake up the beast, Nowitzki starting making shots," said Wizards forward Nene, who battled the Mavericks for years as a member Denver Nuggets.
Making his second start of the season, Carter made 9 of 14 shots. Two of his patented high-flying maneuvers stood out.
Once the best leaper in the game, Carter, who turns 36 this month, opened the game's scoring with a fast break dunk after getting space with a crossover dribble in the open court.
"Surprised me," Carter said. "It's one of those: 'oh my gosh, attack the rim, it's right there.' It's one of those things. I was fresh, I was ready to go. I was just in attack mode from jump street, just to get us started. Whether that basket went in or not, that was my goal."
His thunderous jam with 1:11 remaining essentially closed the game by giving Dallas a 101-92 lead.
"Vince Carter looked like the young Vince Carter," Nene said.
Washington looked like the same old Wizards (4-25). Bradley Beal matched his career-high with 22 points and Emeka Okafor had 14 points and 11 rebounds, but the Wizards have lost two straight games and 10 of 11.
"We came out strong and aggressive, probably the best start we've ever had, but we didn't keep our foot on their throat," Beal said.
Dallas closed the second quarter with seven consecutive points and trailed 52-48 at halftime. Down 58-52 early in the third, the Mavericks put together an 8-0 run, six coming from Marion, whose fade-away jumper gave Dallas the lead for good at 59-58.
"Third quarter, they came out and kind of blitzed us pretty good right there," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said dejectedly. "They came out and shot the ball extremely well in that quarter."
The matchup pitted the two NBA teams allowing the most opposing rebounds and Dallas, sitting at the bottom of that list, played like it early. Washington held a 20-8 advantage on the glass and scored 17 second-chance points for a 29-23 lead after the first quarter. Jordan Crawford's 3-point capped a 10-0 run and put Washington up 37-23.
The Wizards committed 11 of its 15 turnovers in the second half and were outrebounded 36-24 over the final three quarters.
Beal entered the game having missed his last 17 3-point attempts dating back to Dec. 15, but the rookie drilled three in the first half and four overall on Bradley Beal bobblehead night.
NOTES: Mavericks forward Brandan Wright sat out with a quad strain. ... Dallas won the first meeting 107-101 on Nov. 14. ... Wizards forward Trevor Ariza, out since Dec. 4 with a calf strain, participated in non-contract team drills Monday along with guard John Wall (knee). ... Beal closed the year in a 3-point shooting slump, missing 17 consecutive attempts dating back to Dec. 15 at Miami. ... The Mavericks last lost seven in a row in February 1999. ... Dallas plays at Miami on Wednesday while Washington plays at Indiana.