DALLAS, May 13 (Ticker) -- Amaré Stoudemire carried the Phoenix Suns early. Steve Nash put them over the top down the stretch.

Nash helped spark a decisive fourth-quarter surge as the Suns regained the home-court advantage in a 119-102 victory over the Dallas Mavericks to take a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.

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In a highly entertaining game, the Suns showed why they were the NBA's best road team in the regular season, using a 15-0 run to take control of a tight contest.

After Jason Terry's basket with 5:50 remaining pulled the Mavericks within 97-96, Nash split two free throws 18 seconds later to trigger the decisive burst. The league MVP had assists on back-to-back 3-pointers by Shawn Marion and Jim Jackson and added two more baskets of his own in the run.

"I thought the whole second half that we had good rhythm," Nash said. "They made some plays to keep themselves in the game. I felt like we had a run left in us. We were able to get in the paint and get the ball to shooters, and our guys got into a rhythm and hit some shots for us."

"The MVP always plays great," Stoudemire said. "Steve is a great guy that commands the ball so much because he draws so much attention that it leaves most of us open and creates a lot of easy baskets for us."

Nash burned his former team for 27 points and 17 assists in his best game of the series. He had nine points and four assists in the fourth quarter.

"He had a great game tonight," Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki said. "He had us both ways - not only on the drive, but he also found shooters. He really mixed it up nicely by getting to the rim, if not really spreading the floor and finding the open man."

It also was another huge night for Stoudemire, who continued to prove the Mavericks have no one that can guard him. The All-Star scored 25 of his 37 points in the first half and also finished with 14 rebounds and five blocks.

Stoudemire did a majority of his damage around the basket, finishing with eight dunks. He is averaging 35.7 points and 15.3 rebounds in the first three games of the series.

"I think we made a statement that regardless of what they throw at us, we're going to counteract to it," said Stoudemire, who made 13-of-24 shots and 11-of-15 free throws.

"They came with a small lineup. We did a great job of recognizing that early. They came up with a big lineup, we put in the screen-and-roll. I think whatever they throw at us, as long as we do a great job of recognizing it early, we'll be in great shape."

The top-seeded Suns also received a big game from Jackson, who scored nine of his 17 points in the fourth quarter. Jackson was inserted in the starting lineup in place of Joe Johnson, who suffered a broken bone in his left eye socket in Wednesday's Game 2 loss.

Marion made five 3-pointers and Quentin Richardson four for Phoenix, which went 11-of-22 from the arc. Dallas went a woeful 1-of-18 from the arc.

The outside shooting of Marion and Richardson also helped compensate for the absence of Johnson, who may not play again in the series.

Suns coach Mike D'Antoni was confident his team would rally without Johnson.

"I know we would, we have done it all year," he said. "We really have. That's what a good team does - they close ranks and come out and have a big game."

"We got one for Joe. We all feel sick about what happened to him," Nash said. "It was a freak accident and he went through a lot. He's a guy who's never missed a game. He's been terrific for us the whole year. We really needed to play better than we did in Game Two even without him, one of our best players, and I thought we stuck with it tonight. We really stuck together tonight."

Having Jackson replace Johnson in the starting lineup also further depleted what already was a thin bench. Dallas held a 37-5 advantage in bench points, but Phoenix still was the fresher team in the fourth quarter despite each starter playing at least 41 minutes.

Phoenix, which went 31-10 on the road in the regular season, is 3-0 away from home in the playoffs.

Nowitzki scored 21 points and Jerry Stackhouse 20 for the Mavericks, who were held scoreless for 4:10 during the Suns' pivotal surge.

Nowitzki received little help from Michael Finley and center Erick Dampier, who both struggled after coming up big in Game Two. Finley scored 11 points on 4-of-14 shooting and Dampier, who was criticized by Nowitzki following the series opener, again got in early foul trouble and managed just four points in 13 ineffective minutes.

"To come back home after we got a split in Phoenix and play the way we played, especially in the second half, is very disappointing," Mavericks coach Avery Johnson said. "We didn't shoot the three very well, but the most disappointing thing was we didn't attempt a free throw in the fourth quarter."

The Mavericks led by as many as eight points in the first half before Stoudemire had a pair of a ferocious dunks to spark a 12-3 run that gave the Suns a 39-38 lead with 7:31 left before the break.

Stoudemire made 8-of-11 shots and went 9-of-12 at the free-throw line in a first half that ended with the Suns holding a 60-59 lead.

A jumper by Jackson gave the Suns a 72-63 lead with 7:05 left in the third quarter. They held an 87-82 advantage entering the final period.

Terry's 3-pointer at the 9:40 mark of the fourth quarter tied the game at 88-88, but Nash drilled a shot from the arc 22 seconds later to give the Suns the lead for good.

Marion added 21 points and Richardson 12 for the Suns, who shot 52 percent (46-of-89) and held a 25-19 advantage in fast-break points.

Dallas shot 39 percent (39-of-100) and held a 52-44 rebounding advantage in falling to 2-3 at home in the postseason.

Game 4 is here Sunday.