DALLAS, TX - APRIL 12: Monta Ellis #11 of the Dallas Mavericks shoots against the Phoenix Suns on April 12, 2014 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Danny Bollinger/NBAE via Getty Images)
AP Photo
April 12, 2014

DALLAS (AP) Monta Ellis matched his season high with 37 points and Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 of his 23 during a second-half rally that carried the Dallas Mavericks back to the playoffs in a 101-98 victory against the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night.

Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki brought the Mavericks back by hitting five 3-pointers between them in less than 4 minutes of the third quarter, erasing most of a 13-point deficit. Then they teamed to get the lead back in the fourth, and Dallas held on in the final minutes.

The Mavericks left the Suns and Memphis to battle for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. Dallas is back in the postseason after a 12-year playoff streak ended last season.

Eric Bledsoe scored 29 points for the Suns, who play the Grizzlies on Monday night in a game that figures to go a long way toward deciding the final playoff team in the West.

Nowitzki broke an 89-all tie with a 3-pointer, shouting ''Boom!'' as he signaled a ''3'' with both hands. Seconds later, Ellis stole the ball from Frye and hit a tough layup with Bledsoe riding his hip.

After a rare miss from Frye - who made his first five 3-pointers - Devin Harris hit a 3 from the top of the key, holding his arms up and looking to the ceiling in apparent relief after struggling from long range recently.

The Suns were down 99-91, but got back within two when Bledsoe stole a pass by Ellis and coasted in for a layup with 1:15 remaining. It was one of 19 turnovers for the Mavericks, and the Suns had 18 in a fast-paced game with a lot of wild passes.

Bledsoe had a chance to tie the score with free throws, but missed the second of two.

Gerald Green missed a short jumper that would have put Phoenix in front. Then, Ellis made one of two free throws for a two-point lead with 20 seconds left after getting poked in the face by Bledsoe, who nearly created another turnover and what would have been an easy layup.

Brandan Wright blocked a layup attempt by Bledsoe, and after Ellis again missed one of two free throws, Markieff Morris was off the mark on a high-arching 3-point try in the final seconds.

Ellis, who was 15 of 23 from the field and made three of four from long range, kept up his hot shooting in the third quarter and Nowitzki joined him after a cold first half as the Mavericks' top two scorers combined for 44 points after halftime.

Dallas' surge started after P.J. Tucker missed a free throw on a potential three-point play that would have given the Suns their biggest lead at 70-56.

Vince Carter made a driving layup and Ellis hit back-to-back shots from the side of the 3-point arc, screaming for emphasis after the second one.

Then it was Nowitzki's turn to hit two in a row and shout, which he did after getting Dallas within 72-70 from a couple of feet behind the arc late in the third quarter.

The Mavericks took their first lead since midway through the second quarter when Nowitzki hit a layup on a pass from Ellis for an 88-87 lead midway through the fourth quarter.

NOTES: Goran Dragic played with a sprained left ankle after missing a game the previous night in San Antonio and finished with 13 points on just 6-of-18 shooting. ... Carter passed Adrian Dantley for 25th on the scoring list. He finished with 12 points and now has 23,183 points, six ahead of Dantley.

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