DALLAS (AP) — Monta Ellis figures the Dallas Mavericks are better off mentally than the last time they played a Western Conference contender.
Armed with three straight wins against losing teams and their best record in almost two years, the Mavericks have to get ready for three games against playoff-worthy foes in the West.
Ellis scored 21 points, Dirk Nowitzki added 15 and the Mavericks beat Orlando 107-88 Monday night, extending the Magic's longest skid of the season to eight games.
The Mavericks bounced back from a blowout loss to defending West champion San Antonio and now get set for a trip to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, less than two weeks after blowing a late lead after Chris Paul left with a shoulder injury that still has him sidelined.
"I think our mindset is different heading into this game on a three-game winning streak," said Ellis, who scored 14 in the first half to help build an 18-point lead that withstood a few challenges after halftime. "Hopefully we continue with it."
Jameer Nelson scored 21 and Glen Davis added 19 points and eight rebounds for the Magic, who got swept on a swing through five Western Conference cities and lost by an average of 20 points.
"I'm disappointed that it didn't go the way we felt it should have went or could have went, but at the same time we get the opportunity to go home, see our families, sleep in our bed," Nelson said. "You get to play in front of your home fans."
The Mavericks (23-16) moved seven games over .500 for the first time since the end of the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season — the year after they won the franchise's first championship.
Nowitzki did most of his damage in the first half with 10 points, two nights after scoring 20 in the third quarter on his way to a season-high 40 against New Orleans.
Vince Carter, who had 17 points, was 3 of 4 from 3-point range and had consecutive 2-point baskets in an 8-0 run that finally put Orlando away in the fourth quarter. The spurt included a long pass from Jae Crowder to Brandan Wright for a dunk that put Dallas up 97-82.
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