DALLAS -- On Tuesday night, everybody at American Airlines Center found out how quickly a dud can turn into a stud.
It happened with Dirk Nowitzki.
And it happened with a lifeless game that turned absolutely riveting in the final minutes.
The Mavericks looked completely dead for three quarters, and Nowitzki was searching for a pulse. Then the Mavericks flipped a switch and turned what looked like a sure loss into a determined 96-85 victory over the Utah Jazz.
The Mavericks trailed by 16 early in the fourth quarter. Nowitzki then went crazy. He scored 23 of 25 points for the Mavericks at one point and smashed the franchise record for points in a quarter, formerly owned by Mark Aguirre, who had 24 on March 24, 1984.
Nowitzki ended with 29 in the quarter, 40 for the game and proved beyond any doubt that he's still the horse that can lead the Mavericks all by himself if need be.
It was the Mavericks' first home win after losing the season opener at AAC last week. They now have three wins in a row and head to New Orleans for Wednesday night's game against the Hornets.
They probably could have flown to the Big Easy without the plane. They were flying high after turning a 76-60 deficit around with a 36-9 romp to finish the game.
Nowitzki did it all. And he got support in all departments, other than scoring, from Shawn Marion, Erick Dampier and Jason Terry.
For the better part of three quarters, the Mavericks and Jazz produced a stench that even the fans could probably smell.
The strong odor abated somewhat late in the third quarter when the Jazz put together something that resembled solid offense.
Utah didn't need it for long. The Mavericks were shooting under 32 percent through three quarters and when the Jazz flashed a brief moment of continuity, they pulled out to a 67-52 lead going into the fourth period.
The third period had been good to the Mavericks in their two wins at Los Angeles. But it was a disaster this night. They gave up 30 points after surrendering just 37 in the first half. A two-point deficit grew to 15, and the Mavericks lacked life against a team that had been beaten in Utah Monday night by Houston -- by 17 points.
Before tipoff, the Mavericks knew that would leave the Jazz in a foul mood.
"(Jerry) Sloan teams all play hard," Jason Kidd said. "They're coming off that tough loss last night at home, and we kind of look at this of them being in that same position that we were in, losing at home and then going out on the road. We're going to have our hands full."
And then some.
The Colony product Deron Williams, held scoreless in the first quarter, finished with 22 points.
With Drew Gooden (muscle strain, right ribs) out, Erick Dampier has been seeing extended time and putting up numbers to match.
He had 12 rebounds, his third consecutive game of double-figure board work.
"He's been playing well all of training camp, and the two games in LA he was great," Jason Kidd said. "We have to build on that, get as much as we can out of him."
Quinton Ross (bruised back) left the game in the first half and did not return. J.J. Barea got the start at shooting guard in the third quarter. . . . Dirk Nowitzki had only 11 points late in the third quarter and was in danger of seeing his string of consecutive 20-point games snapped at 28. However, he came alive down the stretch and surpassed 20 for the 29th consecutive game, the longest active streak in the league, stretching to last season.