DALLAS (Ticker) -- The Dallas Mavericks and New Jersey Nets were on quite a seesaw ride until Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki took over the playground.
Nash took control against former mentor Jason Kidd and Nowitzki made three clutch baskets down the stretch as the Mavericks defeated the Nets for the sixth straight time, 88-79.
For a stretch of nearly 3 1/2 minutes early in the fourth quarter, the teams had 11 straight scoring possessions that produced lead changes. Nash scored seven of his 24 points during that time.
"Steve really kept us in the game tonight," Nowitzki said. "He had a great game and made some big shots for us. He put us in position in the end to win the game."
"He's pretty damn good," Nets coach Byron Scott said. "The game plan was to switch out on him. When you switch out with someone big on him 30 feet out, (it) is to his advantage. He was able to break us down and get into the paint, knock down some shots."
A 3-pointer by Lucious Harris gave New Jersey a 75-73 lead with 6:41 remaining, but Nash tied it with a driving layup.
Then Nowitzki, who also scored 24 points, took over. He scored inside to give Dallas the lead for good with 4:57 to go, then drilled a 3-pointer after Nash penetrated and hooked a pass to the perimeter.
Dallas native Kenyon Martin tipped in a miss for the Nets, but Nash and Nowitzki ran a pick-and-roll that matched the 7-foot Nowitzki against the 6-5 Kidd. His turnaround jumper made it 82-77 with 2:47 remaining.
"I had a brutal shooting performance today (8-of-19) and I was trying to hang in there and take my shots with confidence," Nowitzki said. "In the end a couple of them went down but I think Steve won us the game today."
Nash answered a jumper by Richard Jefferson with a twisting, driving layup with 2:03 left. Forty seconds later, cold-shooting Michael Finley sealed it with a corner jumper for an 86-79 advantage.
Finley scored 15 points on 4-of-17 shooting for Dallas, which has won three straight season series from New Jersey for the first time in franchise history.
Nash also handed out eight assists as he got the better of Kidd, whom he backed up when both played in Phoenix. Kidd scored 13 points on 5-of-15 shooting and had just four assists.
"We made enough big plays down the stretch," Nash said. "It was imperative for us to break away from them. Maybe we learned a lesson or two by executing down the stretch."
"Stevie carried the team until Dirk got going and Fin (Finley) got going," Kidd said. "That's just the type of team that they have. You can't keep all three down. One of them is going to get going. Stevie had his game going tonight."
Martin had 18 points and nine rebounds and reserve Aaron Williams added 13 and eight for the Nets, who committed 23 turnovers while forcing just nine. They have lost five straight road games.
The Mavs have won five of six games, while the Nets have lost five of six.
A three-point play by Rodney Rogers gave New Jersey a 63-62 edge with 10:06 to go and started the series of lead changes.
Finley made a jumper, but Martin made a driving lefthanded layup. Nash hit a 3-pointer, but Williams countered with a three-point play, giving the Nets a 67-65 lead.
"They scored, then we came down and scored," Martin said. "They'd get a stop and then we'd get a stop. That's what we wanted."
"It was seesawing," Harris said. "We played good defense. We made shots, they made shots. It was kind of back and forth. Nobody broke out."
Nash sank two free throws and a jumper around a layup by Kidd. A dunk by Williams gave New Jersey a 72-71 lead with 7:22 to go before Raef LaFrentz answered with a hoop.
New Jersey shot 43 percent (33-of-76) and held a 53-36 advantage on the boards. Dallas shot 42 percent (34-of-81).
"It was a tough game," Nash said. "We couldn't really separate ourselves from them. They kind of killed us on the glass. It was frustrating. "
The Mavs led by nine points on three occasions. The first came after they scored the game's first nine points as the Nets went more than 4 1/2 minutes without a point. The second came when they built a 39-35 halftime bulge to 60-51 on Finley's 3-pointer with 3:02 left in the third quarter.
But the Nets scored the last seven points of the period, then tied it as Martin's tip-in opened the fourth quarter.
"It was an ugly game," Nowitzki said. "We went on an early run and then we couldn't find our jump shot anymore and the next thing you know they've tied the game."