DALLAS -- Vince Carter scored 26 points, draining six 3-pointers, to move up a notch on the NBA's all-time scoring list and allowing the Dallas Mavericks to head into the All-Star break on a positive note with a 123-100 victory over the Sacramento Kings Wednesday night at American Airlines Center.
Carter had 17 points in the third quarter when he went 5-for-7 from 3-point range, including a pair late in the period that saw the Mavs re-establish a double-digit lead after the Kings had cut an 18-point deficit in half. Carter, 36, passed Larry Bird and moved into 29th place on the all-time scoring list. He now has 21,797 career points in 1,037 games.
Following one of his late 3s from well beyond the arc, Carter looked at the bench, smiled and shrugged his shoulders a la Michael Jordan.
"Yeah sort of," Carter said when asked if he realized he had made the gesture. "It was one of those, in the moment, I looked down, I realized how far I shot the 3 and I was like, 'Well, I knew we were rolling.' The rim looked like a lake and there was a couple of times, I think the last two shots, I was wide open and I was like, 'Well, they left me open so I'm going to shoot it.'"
Carter's next target on the scoring list is not far ahead. Gary Payton is 28th with 21,813 points.
"It speaks to how he's taken care of himself and longevity; you don't pass Larry Bird on the scoring list unless you've been in it a long time," said Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, a teammate of Bird's in Boston during the mid-1980s. "Vince has got a really good situation here with our team and we've got a really good situation having him here. We needed a guy who could be a scorer, playmaker off the bench with Jet [Jason Terry] being gone."
Dallas got the much-needed bounce-back win after it failed to close out the Atlanta Hawks in a disappointing home loss on Monday. The Mavs go into the break at 23-29. Currently in 11th place in the Western Conference, they have 30 games after the break to get hot and make a push into playoff contention. Dallas has made the playoffs in 12 consecutive seasons, the longest active streak behind the San Antonio Spurs.
Wednesday's win was a step in the right direction against a Kings team that fell to 5-23 on the road and has now lost 18 consecutive games in Dallas. It's the Mavs' longest home winning streak against an opponent and the second-longest active winning streak in the NBA behind the Spurs' 28-game streak against Golden State. The Kings haven't won in Dallas since February 2003.
Also encouraging for Dallas is the recent play of Dirk Nowitzki. He turned in one of his best all-around performances of his season, which got off to a late start after he missed the first 27 games due to arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. In his 23rd game, Nowitzki posted 17 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals.
Carter's game-high 26 points, three shy of his high during two seasons with Dallas, led four Mavs into double figures. Point guard Darren Collison had 18 points and nine assists and O.J. Mayo had 10 points despite missing all seven of his 3-point attempts. The Mavs made 13 of a season-high 34 3-point attempts with six coming in the third quarter.
"Obviously Vince Carter getting hot and he made a bunch of plays and 3-point shots," Kings coach Keith Smart said. "Then it started raining. Once you start making 3s, everyone starts making them. You can't compensate or catch up with 2s or missed layups."
For the Kings (19-35) it was the same old story on the road. After losing at Memphis on Tuesday night, 108-101, they trailed just 30-27, but were blown out in the second quarter, 29-17. They never recovered.
Sacramento committed 18 turnovers, shot 41.2 percent and was outrebounded by one of the worst rebounding teams in the league, while giving up 15 offensive boards.
"We just need to crack down defensively," said Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, who had 17 points, 13 rebounds and five assists. "We've given up a lot of points these last couple of games. It's just wanting to play defense and that's what it's going to start with. That's basically what it is."
Tyreke Evans led Sacramento with 23 points and Jason Thompson had 17 points and nine rebounds.
NOTES: Carter also made his 1,600th 3-pointer of his career, becoming the 11th player in NBA history with at least 1,600 3-pointers. ... Sacramento guard Marcus Thornton did not play due to a bruised right hand. ... Dallas center Chris Kaman missed his eighth consecutive game after sustaining a concussion during practice. ... Sacramento's five road wins are fewer than all teams except for Washington, which has four. ... Mavs 28-year-old rookie center Bernard James will be honored Saturday night at the Toyota Center for his six years of military service in the Air Force.