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Mavericks halt Nuggets’ win streak

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DALLAS — The Dallas Mavericks avenged a loss two days earlier in Denver with a wire-to-wire, 97-89 victory over the overmatched Nuggets on Friday night.

The difference from Wednesday to Friday came down to three rested Mavs players — forward Dirk Nowitzki, point guard Rajon Rondo and center Tyson Chandler — who were given the first meeting off after playing extended minutes in a tough overtime win at Sacramento the night before.

The trio was back in the lineup as Dallas returned home. But it wasn’t necessarily a dominant performance by the Mavs (28-13), who continually turned away multiple Nuggets runs after jumping out to a 17-4 lead they never relinquished.

“The important thing was that we got the win,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “We had a great start. In the first half, I thought we had some uncharacteristically bad turnovers that hurt us. We had a chance to really build a good lead, but they hung around and they made it difficult.

“It wasn’t an easy game. We had a lot of guys who contributed. The important thing was that we won a game, which we really needed coming off losing three out of four. Happy to win.”

The loss marked the end of Denver’s five-game winning streak, tied for its longest of the season. The Nuggets dropped to 18-21.

An 11-2 burst in the opening three-plus minutes of the third quarter widened the Mavs’ 49-42 halftime lead to 60-44. From there, the Mavericks kept the Nuggets at arm’s length and finished them off.

Nowitzki led Dallas with 25 points on 8-of-18 shooting from the field, but he drained 4 of 5 3-pointers. Chandler had eight points on 4-of-4 shooting from the floor and grabbed 14 rebounds.

Rondo had an off-night shooting, making 1 of 6 from the field for two points, but he contributed in other ways with eight assists and nine rebounds.

Forward Chandler Parsons added 18 points and guard Monta Ellis had 14.

“I think what really got us going was defense early on,” Nowitzki said. “We got some stops, in transition they had some trouble finding us, and I was able to knock some shots down.

“But, overall, I think if we hold teams to under 90 at home, that’s obviously great for us. That’s the way we win. Our defensive effort was great. We tried to keep (Ty) Lawson out of the paint, tried to close out on their shooters. So, overall, I think it was a decent effort.”

Dallas, which didn’t shoot particularly well, finished at 42.9 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from beyond the arc.

After the Mavs’ early hot spurt, a monster dunk from Denver forward Wilson Chandler seemed to steady the Nuggets a bit as they chipped their way into the game despite shooting just 37 percent from the field in the first half and missing half of their eight free throws.

They did themselves no favors the rest of the way, finishing 12 of 25 from the free throw line and 9 of 25 from beyond the arc.

“We just weren’t making shots,” said Lawson, who had 11 points on 3-of-13 shooting from the field with 12 assists. “We were getting all the stops. We held them to 97 points, but the ball wasn’t going through the rim, the free throw line or field. We were getting wide-open shots, the shots that we normally make, but it just wasn’t falling.”

The Nuggets, who are still missing injured players Danilo Gallinari, JaVale McGee and Randy Foye, had six players score in double figures, but no one had more than the 16 points from shooting guard Arron Afflalo on just 6-of-17 shooting from the field.

Former Mavs guard Jameer Nelson added 14 points off the bench in his first game in a Nuggets uniform, and reserve forward J.J. Hickson contributed 13 points and 14 rebounds.

“It was a little weird,” Nelson said. “No. 1, playing against a team you played for this year, and two, I haven’t played basketball in a couple of weeks.

“The situation in Boston, I had a lot going on (Thursday) with traveling and my mind was spinning. You step on the court, it’s basketball and all the other stuff goes out the window. You have to play the game and do your job.”

Dallas improved to 9-5 since trading for Rondo and is now 21-0 when leading after the third quarter.

NOTES: Mavs F Dirk Nowitzki, G Rajon Rondo and C Tyson Chandler all returned to the starting lineup after sitting out Wednesday’s loss at Denver. Nowitzki and Chandler were held out for the rest on the second game of a back-to-back and Rondo was nursing a sore left Achilles tendon. … With his second 3-pointer in the first quarter, Nowitzki moved past Mike Bibby (1,516) for 22nd on the NBA’s career 3-point field-goals made list. … Before the game, Mavs owner Mark Cuban complained that the league too often puts teams at disadvantages by making them travel to a later time zone, or west to east, for back-to-back games. He called Wednesday’s game at Denver, scheduled the night after Dallas played at Sacramento, a “giveaway game.” … Nuggets G Jameer Nelson returned to Dallas for the first time since the Mavs traded the veteran to Boston on Dec. 19 for Rondo. Boston traded Nelson to Denver on Tuesday for G Nate Robinson. … Mavs coach Rick Carlisle entered Friday’s game with 596 career victories. He will become the 24th coach in NBA history to reach 600. … Friday’s game was the second of just four home games for the Mavs this month. Next is a Southwest Division showdown at Memphis on Monday night. … The Nuggets head home to face Minnesota on Saturday before a challenging road-home back-to-back against Golden State and San Antonio.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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