DALLAS -- The Dallas Mavericks got a measure of retribution Wednesday night with a down-to-the-wire, 112-108 victory against the Houston Rockets, the team that thumped them by 36 points just three nights earlier.
Mavs guard O.J. Mayo scored seven consecutive points during a critical stretch of the fourth quarter and Darren Collison, after nearly turning the ball over at midcourt with seconds to play, made two free throws to seal the victory.
The loss is costly for the Rockets (33-29), who are working to solidify their playoff credentials. Houston is in seventh place in the Western Conference, but just a half-game ahead of the Utah Jazz. The Rockets lost a full game to the hard-charging Los Angeles Lakers, who rallied from a 25-point deficit Wednesday to win at New Orleans.
After Rockets guard James Harden put the Rockets up 104-102 with a 3-pointer, Mayo answered with a shot-clock-beating 3-pointer for a 105-104 lead with three minutes to go. He added another jumper and then dished his career-best 12th assist to Dirk Nowitzki, who got a friendly bounce off the rim for a 109-104 lead.
Harden made it 109-108 with four consecutive free throws with just over a minute to play and then Mavs forward Shawn Marion hit one of two free throws for a two-point lead with 49.9 to go.
Harden missed badly on a contested 3, but the ball went of bounds off Mavs center Brandan Wright, giving Houston a fresh 24-second shot clock with 28.5 on the game clock. Harden dribbled the clock down and drove to the rim but missed a difficult shot with the 6-10 Wright defending.
The ball went out of bounds again and, after a lengthy replay review, it went to the Mavs with 6.4 seconds to go, setting up Collison's near-turnover and free throws.
Nowitzki and Shawn Marion led the Mavs with 22 points each. Vince Carter had 16, including two key fourth-quarter 3-pointers that regained four-point leads each time. Mayo had 13 points for the double-double and Wright had 12 points.
Harden scored 16 of his game-high 28 points at the free-throw line, and Chandler Parsons had 23 points.
The Mavs (27-33) led by as many as 11 in the first half, when they shot 62.5 percent.
NOTES: Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle started 37-year-old point guard Mike James over regular starter Collison. ... Center Brandan Wright made his 12th start of the season, replacing Chris Kaman. ... The Mavs used their 20th different starting lineup this season. ... Dallas entered the night having won its past five home games against the Rockets, though its nine-game overall winning streak in the series was snapped Sunday in the Rockets' 136-103 victory. ... Rockets guard Jeremy Lin began his NBA career with the Mavs' Las Vegas summer league team in 2010. ... Marion had two steals to pass Rod Strickland for 25th on the NBA's all-time steals list. Marion has 1,622 to Strickland's 1,620.