"It feels great," Arenas said after scoring 38 points with eight assists during the Wizards' 106-97 victory on Monday night. "It shows what we're capable of doing if we come out and play hard. But we have to get a streak of our own pretty soon here if we want to be in that race."
All of Washington's starters scored in double figures in the first three quarters. Only once had the team accomplished that in a full game this season.
Antawn Jamison had 20 points and 12 rebounds. Caron Butler added 14 points, nine rebounds and seven assists for the Wizards, who built leads of 20 points in the first half and 31 in the third quarter.
Dirk Nowitzki, who led Dallas with 27 points, capped a 19-6 run with a 3-pointer that pulled the Mavericks to within 102-95 with 1:07 remaining. Devin Harris scored nine points during the spree and finished with 14. Jerry Stackhouse and Devean George also scored 14 points for Dallas.
"They didn't quit," Jamison said. "They finished the game like a veteran team, as they should have. They've won 12 straight, so we knew it was going to be tough since they play well on the road. We did a great job of putting them on the ropes early."
The Mavericks' 12-game winning streak was the longest in the NBA this season.
"It doesn't take much for us to get hot and make some shots. Down 20, that's doable in a game -- 30 is a huge hole and it was just too deep," said Nowitzki.
The Wizards went on a 17-4 run to open the third quarter, capped by Jarvis Hayes' 3-pointer for a 76-45 lead with 6:24 remaining in the period.
A sequence earlier in the period epitomized the game. Arenas banked home a 3-pointer off the glass that gave Washington a 69-45 lead and Nowitzki's ensuing jumper at the other end drew nothing but glass.
"We felt that they were going to cool down, they just never really did," Stackhouse said of the Wizards, who shot 49.5 percent and outrebounded the Mavericks, 59-46.
The victory was the Wizards' first in their last seven meetings with the Mavericks, whose five-game road winning streak also ended. The last time Washington defeated Dallas was Nov. 5, 2003, when Arenas posted the first of his three career triple-doubles.
"Tonight we just went out there and played hard and did what we do best," Arenas said. "This is one win we got that we told ourselves the way we'd been losing that we had to get a win. Now we have to go on the road and just play good basketball."
The Wizards, who are 0-8 on the road, visit New York on Wednesday.
"Our problem hasn't been finding a way to get it done at home," Jamison said. "It's been finding a way to bottle that energy and that passion at home and bringing it on the road."
Butler's dunk on the run gave Washington a 15-point lead midway through the second quarter. DeShawn Stevenson's jumper extended the Wizards' lead to 57-37 with 2:18 remaining in the half.
Jamison and Arenas shot a combined 9-of-12 in the first quarter and the Wizards, who shot 71 percent in the period, took a 31-23 lead.
"We had to play from behind tonight and we just waited too long to respond," Mavericks coach Avery Johnson said. "We just couldn't get anything to fall for us offensively in the first quarter. They deserved to win the game."
- Arenas was held under 20 points for the third time this season on Saturday night in Chicago. In the previous two instances in which Arenas failed to score 20 points, he averaged 36 points in the following games. Last season, Arenas was held under 20 points 14 times, and he averaged 33.1 points in his next games.
- Butler's seven assists were a season high.