Nowitzki's 34 leads Mavericks past Suns 122-117

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PHOENIX (AP) -- Dirk Nowitzki scored 23 of his 34 points in the second half and the Dallas Mavericks beat Phoenix 122-117 on Tuesday night to widen their lead over the Suns for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

The Suns lost their season-worst fifth in a row to fall five games behind the Mavericks, with 18 to play, for the eighth playoff berth in the West.

Jason Terry added 25 points and Jose Barea 16 for Dallas. Shaquille O'Neal scored 21 on 9-of-10 shooting for Phoenix to pass Elvin Hayes for sixth on the NBA's career scoring list. Steve Nash had 23 points and 13 assists for the Suns. Matt Barnes added 21 points.