DALLAS, May 15 (Ticker) -- Steve Nash seemingly could not miss at his old arena. Unfortunately for the league's Most Valuable Player, Amare Stoudemire and his other Phoenix Suns teammates did not give him much support.

Nash scored a career-high 48 points but Stoudemire had just 15 as the Suns fell to the Dallas Mavericks, 119-109, to see their Western Conference semifinal series leveled at two games apiece.

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Josh Howard collected 29 points and 10 rebounds, Dirk Nowitzki added 25 points and reserve Jerry Stackhouse 22 for the fourth-seeded Mavericks, who won Game 2 at Phoenix but lost Game 3 at the American Airlines Center on Friday, 119-102.

"This was the most important game of the series for us," Stackhouse said. "Once we lost the first game at home, we had to have this game, and I don't think nobody in our locker room wanted to go back to Phoenix down 3-1."

Stoudemire, who averaged 35.7 points in the first three games, never got going against Mavericks center Erick Dampier in Game 4. Dampier, who was outscored by Stoudemire by 40-0 in a Game 1 loss, recorded 13 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks in this one and limited the All-Star Stoudemire to just 3-of-8 shooting.

"I just went out and played as aggressive as I could," Dampier said. "Whenever (Stoudemire) put the ball on the floor, whenever he drove, I just tried to contest his shot."

Dallas trailed, 22-21, before going on an 11-0 run bridging the first two quarters. The Mavericks pushed their advantage to as much as 66-45 on a jumper by Nowitzki before the Suns scored the final five points of the half.

"We didn't come out with the kind of desperation they came out with, and we paid for it," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said.

The Mavericks, who took a 93-79 cushion into the final period, led between nine and 16 points throughout the last 12 minutes.

Nash - who played in Dallas from 1998-2004 - connected on 20-of-28 shots but the Mavericks seemed content on letting him score rather than set up teammates for easy baskets. The Canadian had five assists - 12 fewer than Game 3 - but committed nine turnovers.

"Obviously, they changed their game plan a little bit," Nash said. "I felt like I had to be more aggressive to make them play for the way they were playing. They know that's not the way we really want to play, we like to share it around, so they did a good job making us adjust."

Game 5 is Wednesday in Phoenix.

"It was a total team effort tonight. Great win for our team," Mavericks coach Avery Johnson said. "Obviously, we still have a ton of things to improve on, (but it was) just a great Western Conference shootout."

The Suns shot 51 percent (42-of-82) but allowed the Mavericks to connect on 55 percent (46-of-83).

"We shot 50 percent and we scored 109 points," Nash said. "That's enough to win. In the first half, (we) gave up too many points, basically."

Phoenix played its second straight game without starting guard Joe Johnson, who suffered a fractured left orbital bone after a hard fall in Game 2. Jim Jackson started in his place and scored 11 points, but the Suns' bench managed just three points, all by guard Leandro Barbosa.