HOUSTON -- Dirk Nowitzki scoffed at the notion that hes playing as well now as he did when he led the Dallas Mavericks to a title in 2011. He will, however, concede that at age 35 hes having a pretty good season. Nowitzki scored 31 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, to lead the Mavericks to a 111-104 win over the Houston Rockets on Monday night. He joked that his big night was simply luck before getting serious and discussing the work he puts in off the court. "Hopefully I can light it up a couple of more years and then slowly fade away," he said, breaking into a huge smile. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle isnt surprised at what Nowitzki, who is averaging 21.5 points a game, is doing for his team this season. "Hes the great Dirk Nowitzki," Carlisle said. "Hes one of the great players in the history of the game." Nowitzki missed the first 27 games of last season after knee surgery and the Mavericks missed the playoffs for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. He feels like his game is good now and his injury is behind him, but he wants to do more. "The driving the ball is whats missing a little now," he said. "I do a lot of one or two dribble and then up, but I want to get back to driving some more to the basket and get to the foul line. I dont think Im in 11 shape, but compared to the last two years I feel a lot better. The right knee is great and I feel better." Nowitzkis performance on Monday night gave him 25,629 career points, which moved him past Alex English for 13th place in scoring in NBA history. Houston cut the lead to six after a 3-pointer by Aaron Brooks with about 3 1/2 minutes left, but Nowitzki knocked down consecutive baskets to push the Mavericks lead to 107-97. Houston coach Kevin McHale was frustrated that his team was unable to slow Nowitzki down. "We tried a bunch of different stuff," McHale said. "We tried showing and coming back. We tried staying on there. We tried running at him. Nothing seemed to work." Dwight Howard had 29 points and 15 rebounds for the Rockets, who were playing their second straight game without leading scorer James Harden, who was out with a sprained left ankle. Dallas started the final period by using a 9-4 run powered by three 3-pointers, including two from Jae Crowder, to push the lead to 95-82. Jeremy Lin, who has been out since Dec. 13 because of back spasms, scored 20 and Chandler Parsons had 21 for Houston. Dallas outscored Houston 17-10 over the last five minutes of the third quarter to stretch a one-point lead into an 86-78 advantage entering the fourth quarter. Vince Carter scored seven points during that time and Crowder added five. Monta Ellis had 18 points for Dallas, Carter had 16 and Jose Calderon added 15 points with five assists. With the speedy Harden out, the Rockets relied on their inside game and outscored the Mavericks 60-32 in the paint. But the Mavericks had the advantage from 3-point range, where they made 11 to Houstons seven 3-pointers. "They hit a lot of tough shots tonight, especially in the second half," Howard said. "They shot great the whole game. When a team is shooting that good they are tough to beat." A 15-1 spurt by Dallas to open that second half erased a seven-point halftime deficit and gave the Mavericks a 65-58 lead with eight minutes left in the third quarter. Nowitzki led the way in that stretch, making seven points including a 3-pointer. The Rockets came out flat to start the third, missing six shots and turning the ball over twice in the first few minutes of the quarter. The Rockets finally snapped out of their offensive slump after that, using a 10-4 run to get within 69-68 with about 5 1/2 minutes left in the quarter. Parsons made four quick points near the end of it before Howard put an exclamation point on the run with a nifty sideways alley-oop dunk. Houston led by one point about six minutes before halftime and used an 11-2 run over the next four minutes to extend its lead to 52-42. Howard got things going in that span by scoring six straight points and capped the run with a free throw. The Rockets led 57-50 at halftime. NOTES: Houston announced during the game that guard Patrick Beverley had surgery on Monday to repair a fracture in his right hand and will be out 4-6 weeks. ... Calderon has scored more than 10 points in 18 of his last 20 games. ... Houston has scored at least 60 points in the paint in three of its last four games. Emmitt Smith Jersey . Not only that, when Julian de Guzman first stepped on the pitch for Deportivo de la Coruna he became the very first Canadian to play in Spains top tier. Deion Sanders Jersey . -- Thirty years ago, the Detroit Pistons beat the Denver Nuggets 186-184 in triple overtime, a game that remains the highest scoring in NBA history. http://www.cheapcowboysjerseyschina.com/michael-gallup-jersey/ . He reps the 4-1-6The insecurity of Canadian basketball fans is not what it once was with the home grown talent making its way to the big leagues, but it is still nice to see the local kids remembering where they come from once they make their way south. Troy Aikman Jersey . - IndyCar racing officials expressed confidence on Monday that the NOLA Motorsports Park will be able to complete more $4. Connor Williams Jersey . Portuguese sides Benfica and Porto also advanced to the last eight while Basel overcame an early red card to win 2-1 at Salzburg and progress from a last-16 second leg that was briefly suspended because of crowd trouble. Lyon, Valencia and AZ Alkmaar will also be in Fridays draw in Nyon, Switzerland, where the team to avoid will be Juventus -- even though the Italian champions made heavy work of their all-Italian last-16 match against Fiorentina.Andrea Atzeni is eagerly looking forward to the Investec Derby at Epsom after partnering Ulysses in work on Wednesday. The gallop was a getting to know you exercise with Atzeni getting the leg up for the first time after being booked to ride the Galileo colt in the Classic.The momentum in the ante-post betting markets has been firmly with the Sir Michael Stoute-trained runner over the last 10 days with rumours of his impressive work circulating around Newmarket and Atzeni was happy with the gallop. It felt very straightforward, he switches off in behind, and when I asked him, he quickened past the lead horse, he told The Daily Telegraph.He is very well proportioned, a good moving horse. He is not massive, he is a good size - you wouldnt want to be too big anyway to go around Epsom, added the jockey who finished second on Kingston Hill on his first Derby ride two years ago.Ulysses suffered a setback in the winter which meant that he was short of work ahead of his reappearance in a maiden at Leicester, a race which was won by subsequently impressive handicap winner IImperial Aviator and a contest in which Atzeni was third aboard UAE Prince.ddddddddddddWe thought a lot of ours, we thought he was our Derby horse, he continued.It was probably the best maiden in the country. He [Ulyssses] is a beautifully bred horse. He is bred to win a Derby - out of an Oaks winner by a Derby winner. I think they have always liked him and it will be interesting to see how he goes.There are horses that are going to the race without you knowing how good they really are, starting with my fellow.Ulysses is currently the 7/1 joint third favourite with Sky Bet behind US Army Ranger and Wings Of Desire at 4/1 and alongside French raider Cloth Of Stars. 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