Denver, CO (Sports Network) – Dirk Nowitzki scored 13 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter, and Dallas escaped the Pepsi Center with a 102-101 win over Denver after Carmelo Anthony missed a potential game-winner at the buzzer.
Caron Butler scored 16 points, including the go-ahead three pointer down the stretch, and Jason Terry added 20 thanks to a 4-for-5 effort from behind the arc for the Mavericks, who have won three of four to start the year.
Anthony ended with 20 points and 15 rebounds, while Arron Afflalo netted 17 for the Denver, which has split its first four contests. Al Harrington and Chauncey Billups each deposited 16 points in defeat.
Nowitzki, who also pulled down 12 rebounds, scored Dallas’ first seven points of the fourth quarter to keep the visitors in front but missed a dunk at the midway point that eventually led to an Afflalo lay-in. Afflalo hit a three- pointer the next time down to give Denver its first lead of the frame, 95-93, and Anthony’s jumper a little later made it a four-point game.
Nowitzki answered with six straight points, and after Anthony rattled one in to tie it, 99-99, the German superstar drove the lane and dished to the right corner, where Butler was left open for a pivotal three-ball with two minutes to play.
The teams traded misses, and an instant replay reversal on an out-of-bounds call gave Denver the ball with under a minute remaining. Anthony slammed home a Harrington miss with 32.1 seconds left, and Nowitzki air-balled a baseline fadeaway at the other end with eight seconds showing.
A slow-developing play saw Anthony gain possession along the right wing, and the forward got separation from Butler before rising for a 22-footer that rimmed out, giving Dallas its narrow victory.
The Nuggets took a 27-23 lead into the second and, despite never trailing in the quarter, took only a 52-50 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Dallas quickly erased a 54-52 deficit over a 3 1/2-minute span early in the third frame. Terry hit three pointers around a Billups turnover and drained another from long range to cap a 14-4 stretch that gave the Mavs a 66-58 edge with just over 6 1/2 minutes left in the frame.
Harrington’s bucket off a Dallas turnover late in the third had the Nuggets within 84-80 heading to the final stanza.
The Nuggets had won five of the previous six home meetings against Dallas…Gary Forbes had 12 points for the Nuggets, who were outrebounded, 45-39, for the first time this season…Denver’s Ty Lawson, on his 23rd birthday, notched nine points and nine assists…Jason Kidd handed out 12 assists to make up for a 1-for-6 shooting performance for Dallas.