By LYNN DeBRUIN, Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Al Jefferson scored 28 points and tied a career-high with 26 rebounds as the Utah Jazz defeated Dallas 123-121 Monday night in triple-overtime to halt a seven-game losing streak against the Mavericks and preserve their slim playoff hopes.
Utah began the day 10th in the Western Conference but pulled one-half game behind Phoenix and Houston for the eighth and final spot with four games remaining.
The loss dropped Dallas to seventh in the West, one-half game behind Denver.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 40 points against Utah for the second straight time. His 3-pointer forced the second overtime, but he couldn't convert late in the third extra period.
The Jazz forced overtime on Paul Millsap's put-back dunk with 2.2 seconds remaining in regulation.
Jefferson hit a jumper in the third overtime, then blocked Ian Mahinme's shot, setting up Millsap for a fast-break score and 115-113 lead.
Devin Harris hit a 3-pointer and Jefferson's 6-foot running jumper after Nowitzki's missed 3 gave Utah a 120-115 lead with 1:08 remaining.
Delonte West sank a 3 with 56 seconds left to get Dallas back within two points
Millsap made 1 of 2 free throws with 14.9 seconds left and Utah led 121-118.
Jason Terry and Nowitzki both missed 3s in the final 10 seconds.
Harris' free throws provided Utah's final points, before West hit a 3 that was too little too late.
Terry finished with 27 points for Dallas, including four 3s.
Gordon Hayward added 24 points for Utah and Harris had 23, with five 3s.
Jefferson made two long jumpers in the second overtime, including one with 29 seconds left, to keep Utah alive.
The teams combined for 26 3s, with Utah hitting 12 of 28 and Dallas 14 of 34.
Terry scored the first five points of the first overtime, including his fourth 3, but the Jazz regained the lead on back-to-back 3s by Hayward and Harris with 2:06 remaining.
Harris' 9-foot running jumper bumped Utah's lead to 100-96 but the Jazz missed three free throws to keep Dallas in the game.
Mahinmi's dunk brought the Mavs to 101-99 with 42 seconds left in OT, but Millsap hit a step-back 16-footer with 21.5 seconds left as Utah increased its lead to four.
Terry converted a three-point play with 15.5 seconds left to make it a one-point game.
Hayward made a pair of free throws with 13.4 seconds left for a 105-102 lead, but Nowitzki made his second 3 of the night to tie it again with 3.9 seconds left.
Jefferson's tip at the buzzer bounced around and out, forcing a second extra period.
Utah led by nine to start the fourth and by as many as 11 overall. The Jazz were still up 76-66 with 7:41 remaining when Hayward made a free throw after Terry was called for a technical — the second of the night for Dallas.
Jamaal Tinsley's 3 — Utah's ninth on the night — put Utah ahead 79-70 with 5:41 remaining.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Nowitzki and Terry pulled Dallas to 83-78 with 3:52 left and Vince Carter's two free throws got the Mavs within three nearly 1 1/2 minutes later.
Vince Carter's 3 with 39 seconds left pulled the Mavs to 87-86.
After Devin Harris shot an airball 3-pointer with 15 seconds left, Carter made his second straight 3 with 8.5 seconds left to put Dallas ahead 89-87, setting up Millsap's putback.
The Jazz have four games remaining and hold tiebreakers by virtue of head-to-head meetings with Houston and Denver, but not Phoenix. The Jazz play at Portland on Wednesday, then finish the season with home games against Orlando, Phoenix and Portland.
Houston still must play at Dallas, New Orleans and Miami.
Phoenix has Oklahoma City, the Los Angeles Clippers, Denver and San Antonio remaining, in addition to the road game next week in Utah.
Dallas has remaining games against Houston, Golden State, Chicago and Atlanta.
The Mavs were wrapping up a four-game road series, playing four in five days, while the Jazz were returning home after three on the road.
NOTES: Dallas' Rick Carlisle was coaching in his 800th regular-season game Monday night. ... Mavericks PG Jason Kidd was making his 1,300th career start, and his (498th with Dallas). ... Rodrigue Beaubois missed his second straight game for Dallas with a right calf injury. ... Terry tied the Clippers' Chauncey Billups for fourth place on the NBA's career 3-pointers list at 1,783. ... Jazz SF Josh Howard (knee surgery) and SG Raja Bell (knee) both worked out for about 15 minutes on the court during Monday's morning shootaround. ... Jazz backup PG Earl Watson will undergo surgery Tuesday in New York to repair torn cartilage in his right knee. ... NBA D-League call-up Blake Ahearn scored his first Jazz points on a 3-pointer with 11:43 left in the second quarter.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.