DALLAS - After surrendering at least 50 percent shooting in four consecutive games, the Mavericks knew they could forget about any stress-free victories until they regained a defensive presence.
They finally did that in the fourth quarter Tuesday night.
The Mavericks hounded the Los Angeles Clippers into 1-of-9 shooting to start the fourth quarter and went on a 22-3 surge on their way to a 106-96 victory at American Airlines Center.
Yes, it was only the Clippers. But after losing three of four, the Mavericks were in no position to take anybody for granted, particularly in a crazy game that Dirk Nowitzki was ejected from early in the third quarter.
The Mavericks were cruising along just fine until Nowitzki got the thumb. After that, it was a struggle as the Clippers took a 75-71 lead late in the third.
From there, it was Jason Kidd’s show.
On his 37th birthday, Kidd turned back the clock as he seems to do on a regular basis. Kidd put on an offensive show with a season-high 26 points to go with 12 assists and six rebounds.
Nowitzki was ejected with 9:16 left in the third quarter for complaining about a foul call.
Enter Kidd, who had 13 points, three assists and a steal during the 22-3 run that put the Mavericks ahead for good, on their way to tying Denver for the second-best record in the Western Conference.