Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki, right, scored 33 points at the other end and gets a hand in the face of the Clippers' Blake Griffin on defense.


DALLAS - Dirk Nowitzki scored a season-high 33 points, including the first eight in overtime, and the Dallas Mavericks beat one of the top four teams in the Western Conference on Tuesday night for the first time this season with a 109-102 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Chris Paul also had a season-high 33 for the Clippers, who lost the opener of a four-game road trip that makes three stops in Texas.

The Mavericks improved to 1-11 against the top four teams in the West and pulled within a game of the Lakers for the final playoff spot.

Nowitzki put Dallas ahead for good at 101-100 on a jumper, and the Clippers went four minutes in overtime without a field goal. Matt Barnes shot an air ball on a wide-open three-point attempt with the Mavericks leading 103-100 in the final 30 seconds.

The game went to overtime after a wild final five seconds in regulation starting with a go-ahead layup by Paul. O.J. Mayo answered when he slipped the ball in from behind the backboard to tie the score at 97-all with 0.6 of a second left.

With coach Vinny Del Negro signaling for a timeout, the Clippers threw it in anyway. Blake Griffin caught the ball in the lane and flipped it in the basket in one motion, but was called for an offensive foul for pushing Nowitzki before the ball arrived. Dallas got the ball back but was 70 feet from the basket and could not get a shot off.

• Knicks 100, Celtics 85: In Boston, J.R. Smith scored 32 points, Carmelo Anthony added 29, and New York extended its winning streak to five games.

The win moved the Knicks into second place in the Eastern Conference, percentage points ahead of the Indiana Pacers. The Celtics, who could face the Knicks in the first round of the playoffs, lost their fifth straight game and remained in seventh.

Neither team led by more than four points in the early going, and the score was tied 35-35 early in the second quarter. The Knicks then scored the next 14, led 58-44 at halftime and stayed comfortably ahead the rest of the way, leading by as many as 17 points.

The Celtics, playing their second straight game without Kevin Garnett (ankle), were led by Jeff Green with 19 points and Paul Pierce with 16.

• Timberwolves 105, Pistons 82: In Auburn Hills, Mich., Nikola Pekovic had 18 points and 11 rebounds to lead Minnesota.

The game matched one of the league's worst home teams against one of the worst on the road. The Pistons haven't won at home since before the All-Star break, losing seven straight, and Minnesota had lost 10 of its last 11 road games.

Reserve J.J. Barea matched a season-best with 21 points for Minnesota, Luke Ridnour scored 15 and Ricky Rubio added 14 points and nine assists.

Greg Monroe had 11 points and 12 rebounds for Detroit.

Rim shots

• The Sacramento City Council voted 7-2 Tuesday to approve a deal that contributes $258 million to a $447 million project that includes an 18,500-seat arena downtown. The city plans to use money earned from leasing parking garages for events at the arena to help pay the public cost of the new arena on the current site of an aging shopping mall.

The other $189 million will come from the California investment group seeking to have the NBA negate a pending sale that would move the team to Seattle and restore the SuperSonics name.