DALLAS (NBA.com exclusive) -- Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said before Tuesday night's game against Utah that he didn't believe poor shooting was contagious.
He may have been considering vaccinations after a sickly shooting performance by his Mavericks through the first three quarters, but Dirk Nowitzki delivered the cure with a team-record 29 fourth-quarter points as Dallas rallied from 16 down for an improbable 96-85 victory.
Nowitzki didn't just get hot, but downright feverish in the fourth, making 7 of 8 shots from the field and 14 of 14 free throws to finish with 40 points and 11 rebounds as the Mavericks overcame a 72-56 deficit over the final nine-plus minutes. He smashed the previous Dallas record for points in a quarter set by Mark Aguirre with 24 in the first quarter against Denver on March 24, 1984.
"My mentality in the fourth was to go out there and make things happen," Nowitzki said. "We just needed a little spark and they kept feeding me the ball. I got every play down the stretch and I was able to deliver."
Utah, which has dropped five straight and 12 of its last 13 in Dallas, had a 67-52 lead after three quarters. The Mavs, who entered the game ranked 28th in field-goal percentage at 40.9 percent, shot just 31.9 percent through the first three quarters and looked more erratic than Charles Barkley at the driving range.
Fueled by Nowitzki, the Mavericks got off the mat and shot 70.6 percent (12-for-17) from the field and drained 18 of 18 free throws during the decisive final stanza. Dallas scored a season-high 44 points in the quarter, outscoring the Jazz 36-9 to finish the game.
"Dirk put us on his back and showed us why he's MVP," sixth man Jason Terry said. "When you got Dirk just going at you, it takes your legs out from under you. ... It made it easier for us to maintain our defensive intensity when you're riding your captain."
Jason Kidd added a season-high 19 points and made 5 of 8 3-pointers for the Mavericks after entering the game just 1-for-10 from beyond the arc. Shawn Marion and Terry added 10 points apiece and Erick Dampier had 12 rebounds and six blocks.
Deron Williams paced the Jazz with 22 points. Mehmet Okur had a double-double with 14 points and 14 boards, but he was the victim/bystander for many of Nowitzki's fourth-quarter heroics.
"I just wanted to pressure the ball and he didn't want to settle for jump shots," Okur said. "He took the ball to the basket and he got to the free-throw line and made some tough shots. He's one of those guys that once they get hot, it's hard to stop."
Utah, which started 5-0 last season, is off to its worst four-game start since 2002-03 at 1-3. The Jazz got booed on their home court in Monday's loss to Houston, but looked like they were going to reverse last season's misfortune in back-to-back games. They were 3-18 in the second game of back-to-back sets in 2008-09.
The Mavericks heard a few boos of their own at the American Airlines Center after getting outscored 30-17 in the third. During an 11-2 run by the Jazz in that period, Dallas avoided the basket like the swine flu with a sequence that included a baseline airball by Nowitzki and a missed dunk by Marion.
Nowitzki's nine-foot, step-back jumper with 2:05 remaining gave the Mavericks an 85-83 lead, their first since 46-45 in the third. He followed that up by rebounding a Williams miss and making two more free throws to make it 87-83. Nowitzki then blocked a layup attempt by Andrei Kirilenko and dished to Kidd for a 3-point dagger that put Dallas on top 90-83 with 50.8 seconds left.
"Dirk scored the majority of the points, but I can't overstate the effect that Kidd has on games as a competitor and as a guy that just knows what winning is about and how to facilitate it," Carlisle said. "We needed it badly. We got out of here alive and it's good to get the first win at home."
Quinton Ross, the Mavericks' starting two-guard in all four games this season, left the game in the first half with a bruised lower back and did not return. He was expected to make the trip to New Orleans for Wednesday's game. Forward Drew Gooden missed his second straight game with a strained right rib cage.