NEW YORK -- In recent days, the Dallas Mavericks talked about running the table and winning nine straight games heading into this week's All-Star break.
But that was before the defending NBA champions ran into Jeremy Lin and the New York Knicks.
The NBA's newest sensation, Lin scored 28 points and dispensed 14 assists as the Knicks snapped the Mavs' six-game winning streak with a 104-97 victory Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.
It was a game in which Lin played 46 minutes, converted 11 of 20 shots and picked up five steals to minimize the damage his seven turnovers caused. Lin -- a 2010 summer league participant for the Mavs -- made a big believer out of Dallas.
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"He's a little feisty thing," said Shawn Marion, who spent most of the game guarding Lin. "I give him credit -- he plays hard.
"There were a thousand pick-and-rolls out there [involving Lin]. It's hard to guard him."
The Mavs, who host the Boston Celtics at 7 tonight, appeared to be in position to continue their winning ways. A pair of charity tosses from Dirk Nowitzki completed a 21-5 run and lifted Dallas to a 70-58 lead with 4:17 remaining in the third quarter.
Nowitzki, who finished with a season-high 34 points, then went to the bench with 3:47 left in the third period and the Mavs nursing a 70-60 lead. From there, the Knicks pressured the Mavs into 2-of-7 shooting and a pair of turnovers and outscored them 12-5 the remainder of the third period.
"We had the game [in] hand and gave it back,"' Jason Kidd said. "We just stopped playing.
"That group we had out there gave them life. We're up 12 and all of a sudden Dirk and I come out and we found ourselves only up three [after the third period], so that was the game."
After the Mavs took that 70-58 lead, they were outscored 46-27 over the game's final 15:46. And Lin's fingerprints were all over this one.
Lin had six points, two steals and six assists in the fourth quarter. He also had eight points late in the third period after Nowitzki went to the bench, including a dunk after a turnover by Vince Carter with 12.5 seconds left in the third quarter.
"He played terrific," coach Rick Carlisle said. "He was good in the pick-and-roll, and more than anything he lined us up one-on-one."
A 25-6 Knicks run, fueled by 14 fourth-quarter points from former Mavs guard Steve Novak -- he was 4 of 4 on 3-pointers -- also aided New York's come-from-behind win.
"You let Novak be a factor in this game and you're putting yourself up against the wall, because all he can do is spot-up and shoot 3s and he shoots 3s with the best of them," said Mavericks guard Jason Terry, who had 13 points and six assists in his first contest after missing two games. "That's what he's hung his hat on in this league, and he's a specialist at that."
Terry also is a specialist at knocking down 3s. But he missed a trey that would have tied the game with 33.9 seconds left, and J.R. Smith's uncontested layup finished off the Mavs.
Fired up and hoping to prove their worth, the Knicks used a 17-0 run to lead 32-20 after the first period, with Smith hitting three 3-pointers. But the Mavs slowly chipped away to seize control.
"The game was in our hands to finish off, and we didn't do it," Kidd said. "So you tip your hat to them.
"They kept playing and they closed the third quarter on a 12-5 run, so give them credit."
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760