DALLAS (AP) — Vince Carter energized the crowd with his dunking and shooting. He put away the Orlando Magic with his passing.
Carter had 14 points and a major role in two key surges, Shawn Marion and Elton Brand led Dallas with 17 points apiece, and the Mavericks overcame a third-quarter rally from the reeling Magic for a 111-96 victory Wednesday night.
The Mavericks were down 79-73 after leading by as many as 16 in a game they really couldn't afford to lose in their scramble to extend a 12-year playoff streak when Carter dunked on an alley-oop and hit a 3-pointer during a wild minute-long sequence that ended with Dallas in front by one.
Dallas was clinging to a 94-90 lead when Carter started a decisive 17-0 run with another 3-pointer and added three of his season-high eight assists to assure that Dallas didn't lose to a team that a night earlier lost for the 25th time in 28 games, to lowly Charlotte no less.
"We had to have that one," Brand said. "Vince has been playing great. When you put the ball in his hands, good things happen all the time. So he's finding guys diving to the rim and he's hitting his shots also."
Dirk Nowitzki had 12 points and a team-high nine rebounds for Dallas in the victory, which snapped a nine-game winning streak for the road team in the series. O.J. Mayo added 13 points and Darren Collison had nine points and nine assists.
Arron Afflalo led Orlando with 21 points, Maurice Harkness added 20, and Nikola Vucevic had 16 points and 13 rebounds.
Dallas' surge to retake the lead early in the fourth actually started with a miss by Collison, and Carter tipped the ball toward midcourt, where a scramble ensued. Jameer Nelson took the ball from Mayo with a nifty move and fed J.J. Redick, but Mayo scrambled back to block Redick's layup. Mayo went the other way and threw a long alley-oop to Carter for a dunk that woke up a crowd wondering if Dallas' faint playoff hopes were fading for good.
After a miss by Redick, Collison found Carter in transition for a 3-pointer from the right wing that generated an even louder roar, and Collison took it himself after another Orlando miss, got fouled on a drive and hit both free throws to put Dallas ahead 80-79 with 1:06 left in the third.
"O.J. made it all happen," Carter said. "It was a great recovery. We need those multiple efforts if we want to win."
E'Twaun Moore hit a 3-pointer to put Orlando ahead 82-80, but Carter answered with another from long range to put Dallas in front for good.
"I thought the timing of it couldn't have been more key to the game," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "We were down six at the time and it was going to be eight. That's a huge swing."