DALLAS – Dirk Nowitzki hit the go-ahead basket with six minutes left and finished with 31 points to lead the Dallas Mavericks to their sixth straight victory, 102-93 over the Houston Rockets.

Nowitzki’s 12-foot turnaround jumper put the Mavericks ahead to stay after the Rockets, again playing without Tracy McGrady, erased a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter and tied the game at 86-all. About a minute later, Nowitzki hit a 3-pointer to make it 92-87.

Playing for the first time since beating previously undefeated Detroit by 37 points Saturday night, when they scored 40 points in the first quarter, the Mavericks got off to a poor start against Houston.

Even with McGrady missing his second straight game (and fifth this season) because of a strained back, Houston never trailed in the first half. The Rockets led 50-38 with 2:48 left in the first half, before Jason Terry sparked the Mavericks (8-2) with 12 of his season-high 29 points in the spurt that finally pushed Dallas to its first lead.

Josh Howard had 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Mavericks, who are 5-0 at home this season and have won 14 straight regular-season games at American Airlines Center. Avery Johnson is 13-0 at home since replacing Don Nelson as head coach last March.

Rookie Luther Head had 28 points and Yao Ming 20 for the Rockets (3-8), who came in averaging an NBA-low 84 points a game.

Derek Anderson added 19 points, his 3-pointer giving Houston a 50-38 lead with 2:48 left in the first half.

Terry then scored eight of Dallas’ final 10 points before halftime, with a 3-pointer, a steal and a driving layup in a 14-second spurt, and helped get the Mavericks within 53-48.

After Terry had a running layup early in the second half, he assisted on the go-ahead basket. He drove to the goal, then passed back to Nowitzki for a 3-pointer that made it 56-55 with 9:28 left.

Terry’s driving layup two minutes later gave the Mavs a 63-58 lead, ending a wild sequence in which he passed to Erick Dampier, who missed an inside shot. Terry lost his headband in the scuffle for the rebound, then recovered and drove for a layup.

Dallas never trailed again, but the Rockets caught up at 86-all on Anderson’s 15-footer with 6:31 left. That ended a 12-5 run was started by Head hitting 3-pointer and then scoring another basket.

Head, the first-round draft pick from Illinois, already had a season-high 16 points by halftime. He was averaging just 6.8 per game.

Notes: Advantage: Yao Ming, on a jump ball against 6-3 Devin Harris in the third quarter. The 7-foot-6 Yao won the jump. … Harris had the Mavs’ first rebound, nine minutes into the game when the Rockets already had 10. Dallas finished with a 45-34 rebounding advantage. … The Mavs had hoped Jerry Stackhouse (sore right knee) might return this weekend. But with the swelling still not under control, Johnson said Stackhouse’s comeback will remain on hold. He didn’t know for how long. … Mavs F Keith Van Horn (sprained middle finger) sat for the third time in four games.

AP-ES-11-22-05 2326EST

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