Dallas, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - The Dallas Mavericks are back in the postseason following a brief one-year absence.
Monta Ellis had 37 points, Dirk Nowitzki netted 21 of his 23 in the second half and the Mavs topped the Phoenix Suns, 101-98, on Saturday night.
"We set a goal for the beginning of the season, we had our ups and we had our downs, but tonight we came together as a team, everyone really wanted to get this win," Ellis said.
Dallas trailed by as many as 13 early in the second half, but Nowitzki's left- handed layup off a feed from Ellis with 6:42 to go staked it to its first lead, 88-87, since it was 35-34 with 7:28 remaining in the second.
The Mavs built their advantage to 99-91 with 2:25 remaining, but Eric Bledsoe drove in for a layup, Markieff Morris sunk a pair of foul shots and Bledsoe's three-point play whittled the deficit to 99-98 with 52.7 ticks on the clock.
Vince Carter missed badly on a left wing 3-pointer, but Gerald Green was off the mark on a short jumper in transition at the other end. Ellis split a pair of free throws with 20.9 seconds showing to make it 100-98 and Brandan Wright blocked away Bledsoe's driving layup on Phoenix's next trip down the floor.
Ellis, though, again split a pair, but Morris was way off the mark on a potentially tying triple in the waning seconds.
Wright finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks for the Mavericks, who have won five of their last six games.
Bledsoe tallied 29 points, six assists and four steals, while Channing Frye poured in 21 points for Phoenix, which is one-half game behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
The Suns host Memphis on Monday.
"We are still going to fight until the end. We have two games left and hopefully we can win the next game against Memphis and if so, anything is possible," said Suns guard Goran Dragic.
Earlier, Frye nailed four quick triples as the Suns raced out to a 16-8 start, but Shane Larkin knocked down a trey to cap a 9-2 Dallas flurry to end the opening frame and give Dallas a 27-26 edge.
It was 40-40 with 4:27 left in the second before Phoenix ripped off eight straight to take a 48-40 advantage.
The Suns led 57-46 at the break.
The Mavs knocked down five 3-pointers during a 17-5 surge during the latter stages of the third. Ellis hit his third three-ball during the burst to conclude it and pull Dallas within 74-73.
Phoenix took a 78-75 advantage into the fourth.
Devin Harris concluded an 18-4 swing when he swished in a 3-pointer for a 97-89 Dallas spread with 3:30 to go.
The Mavericks shot 49.4 percent (39-of-79) from the floor and 45.8 percent (11-of-24) from beyond the arc ... Phoenix tallied 24 points off 19 Dallas turnovers.
04/13 00:33:47 ET