DALLAS — After they blew one game Tuesday night, the Jazz started playing another.
It was shoulda, coulda, woulda, and every time they took a turn, Dirk Nowitzki kept coming up the winner.
The NBA's 2007 MVP scored a Jordanesque 40 points, including a franchise-record 29 in the fourth quarter as Dallas overcame a 16-point Jazz lead in the final period and beat Utah 96-85 at American Airlines Center.
It was the fourth straight time in Dallas that Nowitzki's scored 30-plus-points against the now 1-3 Jazz, and the 12th time in 13 tries — including five straight — that Utah has lost here.
"Just another game, same story," said Jazz point guard Deron Williams, whose 22 points were a team-high.
Asked if anything could have been done differently, one Jazz player after another seemed to be at a loss.
"It's Dirk," Williams said. "He's been clutch all of his career.
"There's always something else you can do," the Jazz point guard added. "It's just tough. It's tough when (power forward Carlos) Boozer has five fouls, Memo (center Mehmet Okur) has a bad leg. Maybe I should have switched on him."
Boozer, who finished 6-for-12 from the field but opened 1-for-6 and had just four of his 12 points at halftime, played just three minutes in the third quarter because of foul issues.
"It seemed like he either made his shot or he was shooting free throws," Boozer said. "I thought we couldn't be physical with him, couldn't touch him too much without them calling a foul on us.
"Obviously he was aggressive; he's a great player. But I thought we were doing a decent job. But anytime we touched him, they called a foul. So, there's not too much you can do when you can't be physical with somebody."
Okur, meanwhile, was in his second game back after missing one with a mildly sprained left ankle and left knee.
"I could have done a better job on him, maybe deny a little bit," Okur said.
Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, too, was thinking afterward about what might have been done differently.
"There wasn't anything, obviously, we were able to do with Nowitzki," he said.
"We put Memo on him, and I don't think we did a very good job," he said. "He was sensational. Made every basket, got to the free-throw line."
While Nowitzki was on his tear, at one point scoring 27 of 31 Dallas fourth-quarter points, the Jazz were troubled by turnovers.
Utah had four in the final quarter, including one by Andrei Kirilenko, with the Jazz — who closed the third quarter on a 22-6 run, and twice led in the fourth by 16 — still up 79-73 and another when Boozer zipped a pass past Ronnie Brewer with the Jazz ahead 83-78.
"You could feel the momentum kind of shift in that situation," Sloan said, "because they had the spirit, and when we turned the ball over a couple times we felt sorry for ourselves."
Nowitzki muscled through the lane and, after getting fouled by Okur, hit the free throw that followed to make it 83-81 on the possession following Boozer's miscue. He later cut and took a Jason Kidd feed to tie it at 83 with about 21/2 minutes remaining.
When he scored to put Dallas ahead to stay at 85-83, Nowitzki stuck out his tongue a la Michael Jordan. He later bumped chests with Kidd near midcourt, and left to a standing ovation after Dallas coach Rick Carlisle replaced him with ex-Jazz forward Kris Humprhies in the final minute.
"We might have tried to double him, tried something," Sloan said. "But they still had some pretty good shooters out there on the floor, and they were into a rhythm where I felt like if we go off and leave (Jason) Terry or even Jason Kidd ... you're looking at 3s to have to defend against.
"We pushed him to the short side of the floor one time, I think. The rest of the time he went to the long side, where he had a lot more room to operate and get on top of the basket.
"He's a terrific player," Sloan added.
"That's who he is. That's what he's been ever since he's been in the league."
Nowitzki's 29 in the quarter topped Mark Aguirre's Mavs record of 24 in 1984, and were just four off the NBA record for points in a quarter of 33 shared by San Antonio's George Gervin (in the second vs. the New Orleans Jazz in 1978) and Denver's Carmelo Anthony (in the third vs. Minnesota last season).
The late Wilt Chamberlain holds the record for most points in the final quarter with 31 in 1962.
"I got every play down the stretch," Nowitzki said, "and I was able to deliver."
And the Jazz couldn't do a darn thing to stop it.
"He just took the game over," Sloan said.
"You can deny him all you want, but he's still gonna get the ball. He's just that clever in what he does. He'll work you and work you until he gets in a position he likes and that is an advantage for him. I could second-guess myself to death on that."
Editor's note: The original Online story by Jody Genessy is below as a reference for many of the comments generated before the final game story from Tim Buckley.
Forget the lightbulb question. How many men does it take to screw up a much-needed Utah Jazz victory and single-handedly overcome a 16-point deficit?
One German, that's all.
Dirk Nowitzki went on an absolute unbelievable hot streak to dig Dallas out of a huge hole and deliver a painful blow to the Jazz in a 96-85 comeback victory for the Mavericks at American Airlines Center on Tuesday night.
Nowitzki finished with a game-high 40 points and erased the Jazz's 67-52 lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter in a stellar shooting exhibition. The big forward, who also had 11 rebounds, scored 28 points in the fourth quarter alone and threw in 25 of his team's 29 points during one scorching stretch.
This was the second major meltdown for the Jazz in the fourth quarter in two nights. On Monday, Utah was outscored by 17 points in the final 10-plus minutes while getting blown out 113-96 by Houston. The Mavs, who trailed by as many as 16, outscored Utah 44-18 in the final quarter to pull off this stunner.190 comments on this story
The big blow sent a now-reeling Utah team to a 1-3 record, with a tough game against San Antonio at home on Thursday night.
Nowitzki did actually get some help in leading Dallas to a 3-1 mark. Jason Kidd, who had a 19-point night, drilled a nail-in-the-coffin 3-pointer to give the Mavs a 90-83 lead after his teammates's explosive run.
Deron Williams led Utah with 22 points, Mehmet Okur added 14 and Carlos Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko each scored a dozen. Okur also had 14 rebounds.