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Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Utah Jazz guard Gordon Hayward (20), left, crashes into Dallas Mavericks guard Jason Kidd (2) as the Utah Jazz and the Dallas Mavericks play Monday, April 16, 2012 in Salt Lake City.

SALT LAKE CITY — Al Jefferson scored 28 points and pulled down 26 rebounds and the Utah Jazz kept their postseason hopes alive with a wild 123-121 triple-overtime victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night at EnergySolutions Arena.

Utah (32-30) is now one-half game behind both Houston and Phoenix, which are tied for eighth place in the Western Conference playoff race at 32-29. The Jazz — one game back in the all-important loss column — have four regular-season games remaining; the Rockets and Suns each have five games left. Utah holds the tiebreaker over Houston, and Phoenix holds the tiebreaker over the Jazz.

Defending NBA champion Dallas (34-28) slipped to seventh place in the tightly bunched West standings.

Gordon Hayward had 24 points, Devin Harris 23 points and seven assists, Paul Millsap 16 points and nine rebounds and DeMarre Carroll 15 points for the Jazz; the game went into its first overtime on a follow-up dunk by Millsap with 2.4 seconds remaining in regulation.

Utah led by four points, 103-99, with 21.5 seconds left in the first overtime, but Dirk Nowitzki's 3-pointer with 3.9 seconds to go sent it into a second OT tied at 105.

Jefferson's jumper tied it at 111 to set the stage for the third overtime, and with the two teams deadlocked at 115 in the third OT, Harris hit a huge 3-pointer and Jefferson scored in the lane to give Utah a five-point lead, 120-115, with 1:08 left to play.

Delonte West's 3-pointer pulled Dallas within two, 120-118, and after Jefferson missed a shot, Carroll grabbed a critical offensive rebound to retain possession for Utah. Millsap wound up making 1 of 2 free throws to make it 121-118 with 14.9 seconds left, and after Jason Terry and Nowitzki each missed 3-point attempts, Harris hit two free throws with 4.8 seconds on the clock to finally put it out of reach for the Mavs, 123-118. West's last-second 3 made it 123-121 at the final buzzer.

Nowitzki wound up with 40 points and nine rebounds and Terry had 27 points for Dallas, while Vince Carter contributed 18 points and 12 rebounds.

Halftime recap

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Jazz, barely breathing in the Western Conference playoff race, squandered most of their 11-point second-quarter lead and clung to a 43-42 halftime edge over the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night at EnergySolutions Arena.

Utah (31-30) led 31-20 with 8:19 remaining in the first half, but Dallas (34-27) rallied behind the scoring of perennial All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki, who scored 13 of his 20 first-half points over the next seven minutes to help pull the Mavs within a point at halftime.

Devin Harris had 11 points for the Jazz, with Gordon Hayward and Al Jefferson adding eight points apiece for Utah, which entered Monday's game two games behind eighth-place Houston (32-20) in the loss column in the race for the West's final playoff spot. Jefferson also grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds in the first half.

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