HOUSTON -- Forward Dirk Nowitzki scored 31 points, including 10 in a tense fourth quarter, and the Dallas Mavericks rallied to take a 111-104 victory over the Houston Rockets on Monday night at the Toyota Center.
Nowitzki scored six consecutive points for Dallas (16-12) to stifle the final Rockets run in the fourth quarter, one that included Houston guard Aaron Brooks sinking a 3-pointer that cut the Mavericks' lead to 103-97 with 3:38 remaining. Two Nowitzki jumpers later and the lead was 10.
Guard Monta Ellis tallied 18 points, five rebounds and five assists for the Mavericks. Houston center Dwight Howard had 29 points and 15 boards while forward Chandler Parsons added 21 points for Houston (18-11).
After warming in their 30-point second quarter, the Mavericks blitzed the Rockets with 36 points on 59.1 percent shooting in the third. The spurt that enabled Dallas to secure the lead for good was ripped from the Rockets' offensive textbook, with Jose Calderon, Nowitzki and Ellis hitting 3-pointers while Calderon and Nowitzki also scored in transition.
That 13-0 run capped a 21-3 surge Dallas used to turn an 11-point deficit into a 65-58 lead. Parsons' daring forays to the rim, plus his alley-oop pass to Howard, lugged Houston to within 69-68 at the 5:21 mark of the third quarter, but Dallas' offense remained locked and loaded.
With Houston incapable of matching up with shooters in transition, the Mavericks opened the fourth quarter with a trio of treys that pushed their lead to 95-82. Forward Jae Crowder nailed a corner 3 after Ellis sank a 3 above the break on the previous possession. Dallas then exploited the Rockets' defensive switching, with Nowitzki punishing Rockets guard Jeremy Lin (20 points), who surrendered seven inches.
Howard was the Rockets' first-half linchpin and paired 16 points with six rebounds while dominating his matchup against feisty Mavericks center Samuel Dalembert.
NOTES: After missing 10 of the past 12 games due to knee and back ailments, Rockets G Jeremy Lin returned to action Monday and was immediately inserted into the starting lineup replacing Patrick Beverley, who will miss the next 4-6 weeks with a broken right hand. ... The Rockets recalled rookie G Isaiah Canaan from their NBA D-League partner Rio Grande Valley Monday. Canaan, the 34th overall selection in the 2013 NBA draft, averaged 21.7 points, 9.2 assists and 4.3 rebounds in 12 starts with the Vipers. He was second in the D-League in assists and ninth in scoring. ... With Houston C Dwight Howard fresh off a season-best 35-point performance against the Detroit Pistons, the Mavericks remained concerned about the Rockets' offense, even though Houston played without G James Harden (ankle). "The biggest thing is transition," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "With Harden out the second biggest thing is the 3-point line off of transition and the Howard combination inside."