for this game

Dirk, Mavs deal Suns disappointing loss

Mar 11, 2009 - 6:11 AM PHOENIX (Ticker) -- Dirk Nowitzki collected 34 points and 13 rebounds as the Dallas Mavericks dealt the Phoenix Suns a disheartening loss, 122-117, on Tuesday.

Jason Terry scored 25 points off the bench for the Mavericks, who snapped a five-game road losing streak by dispatching their nearest competitor for the eighth and final playoff spot.

Dallas (39-25) moved five games ahead of Phoenix (34-30) in the Western Conference standings with 18 games to play.

"Every win is big in the West, let's face it," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "It doesn't matter who you are playing, they all count as one. In some cases, these head-to-head cases are going to come into play, and there is a long way to go so we take nothing for granted.

"Make no mistake ... we are trying to move up. We're not just trying to hang in this thing."

In fact, the Suns suffered their season-high, fifth straight loss and appear to be sliding out of the playoff picture altogether.

Suns coach Alvin Gentry thinks otherwise.

"It was tough loss, and we are really disappointed but, before I go any further, we still have 18 games left to play," the coach said. "This is not the difference of us being in the playoffs and not being in the playoffs.

"Obviously, this is a team we are chasing and like I said it is like two losses. We are still going to keeps our heads up. We are going to play hard and not going to give up."

Dallas, on the other hand, is feeling good about itself after ending a nine-game skid against Western Conference opponents on the road.

"We haven't won a road game it seems like in two months, 40 days ago in Orlando," Nowitzki said. "We know we can beat anybody at home but the good teams and the great teams find ways to win on the road. That is why this game was definitely a big game."

The Mavericks fell behind early in this one, facing a four-point deficit at halftime and a six-point hole early in the third. Dallas then went on a 9-0 run, capped by Antoine Wright's jumper with 7:52 left in the period to give the Mavs the lead for good.

Dallas outscored Phoenix, 34-25, in the third, which proved to be the decisive quarter.

Steve Nash had 23 points and 13 assists and Shaquille O'Neal added 21 and eight rebounds for the Suns, who shot 55 percent (48-of-87) but were outrebounded, 46-36.

Six players scored in double figures for Phoenix, including Leandro Barbosa, who netted 18 off the bench. The Suns, however, still were outscored, 44-23, by the Mavericks' reserves - a unit led by Terry and Brandon Bass.