Dallas Mavericks forwards Dirk Nowitzki and Josh Howard combined to edge the Houston Rockets 80-77 at the Toyota Center, Houston, Texas on Thursday, taking their winning streak to nine games.
The Mavericks go into the NBA All-Star break with a league-leading 44-9 win/loss record after Nowitzki scored 26 points and pulled down eight rebounds, while Howard contributed 15 points and 11 rebounds to sink the injury plagued Rockets.
The unlikely star down the stretch for the Mavericks was eight-year veteran Jason Terry, who scored the final six points of the game as the visitors came from behind, trailing 77-76 with 2:46 remaining.
Point guard Terry hit a pull-up jumper with 69 seconds left to give the Mavericks a 78-77 lead, and after Rockets guard Luther Head missed a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left before fouling a runner in the lane with six remaining, Terry nailed two free throws to put Dallas up three with 4.2 seconds left.
Rockets star Tracy McGrady tried to dribble up court, but was pressured by Dallas' defense and time expired on his pass to the 3-point line to Juwan Howard with the Mavericks prevailing.
McGrady had an impressive night for the home side, finishing with 27 points and 10 rebounds, his eighth double-double of the season, while Howard had 14 points for Houston, who are still without superstar center Yao Ming.
Yao, who is recovering from a broken leg, expects to resume training with the Rockets within two weeks, and be back playing by early March.
LeBron lashes Lakers
In Thursday's other match, the Cleveland Cavaliers also had a win on the road when they defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 114-108 at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles, with LeBron James leading the visitors with a game-high 38 points.
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant did his best to match James and get his team on top by scoring 34 points of his own, but it was to no avail as the home side slumped to their fifth loss in a row, matching the longest losing streak of coach Phil Jackson's career.