The AP reports: 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 to five games for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. The Suns have lost five straight and have just 18 to play. Phoenix’s Steve Nash said his team came out inexplicably flat in the second half… Jason Terry added 25 points and Jose Barea 16 for Dallas, which snapped a five-game road losing streak… 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. Nash had 23 points and 13 assists for the Suns. Matt Barnes added 21 points.