Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 3)

Series starts 11/21

Game 1: Sunday, November 21st
Game 2: Sunday, December 26th
Game 3: Sunday, January 23rd

Nuggets 93

(17-23, 5-14 away)

Mavericks 95

(27-12, 16-7 home)

    Coverage: FSSW

    12:00 PM ET, January 23, 2005

    American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX

    1 2 3 4 T
    DEN 20 23 29 2193
    DAL 22 25 24 2495

    Top Performers

    Den: A. Miller 16 Pts, 8 Reb, 10 Ast, 2 Stl

    Dal: D. Nowitzki 35 Pts, 11 Reb, 2 Ast, 3 Stl, 3 Blk

    Nowitzki scores nine in final five minutes

    DALLAS (AP) -- Dirk Nowitzki missed five free throws, the same number he'd missed over his last 10 games combined. He'd even flubbed a pair with 5:30 left and the game tied. Then Nowitzki was called for charging, wiping out a go-ahead basket with 49.9 seconds left.

    So what did the Dallas Mavericks do with the game on the line? They went back to Nowitzki, of course.

    Nowitzki rewarded the faith by avenging all his mistakes -- making a layup, drawing the foul and swishing the free throw -- with 17.9 seconds to go, lifting the Mavericks to a 95-93 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Sunday.

    "Dirk is a special player," teammate Michael Finley said. "A couple games a year you stand back and think how good it is that he's your teammate. This is one of those games. He did what it takes to win."

    Nowitzki finished with 35 points and 11 rebounds, but he was only 8-of-13 from the line. That's a stunning fit of the yips for someone who came in having made 43 in a row.

    "You miss one, then you miss two, then you start thinking about it a little bit and the basket looks a little smaller," said Nowitzki, whose streak hit 46, three shy of the team record. "I knew I had been very good lately. Now all I can do is start over."

    Nowitzki's back-to-back bricks in the closing minutes actually spurred him on. He scored nine points the rest of the way and came up with big plays on defense as the Mavs won their fifth straight and 10th of 12.

    Although the Nuggets lost for the ninth time in 10 road games, they were in it until the end -- even after losing center Marcus Camby to a sprained left ankle in the first quarter.

    Earl Boykins hit a 3-pointer that tied it at 91 with 1:03 left. After Francisco Elson, Camby's replacement, drew the charge on Nowitzki, Kenyon Martin put Denver up on a dunk with 27.5 seconds left.

    Martin would've covered Nowitzki on Dallas' next possession, but coach Michael Cooper changed the defensive assignments because Martin was poked in the eye on his basket. Martin pointed out what happened but refused to discuss it.

    "All that's going to happen is I'm going to get fined if I say anything," he said.

    After Nowitzki won his rematch with Elson, the Nuggets still had two tries to win it.

    First, Andre Miller passed up a layup to feed Rodney White back near the foul line. He shot an air ball and Dallas' Jerry Stackhouse got the rebound, then made one of two free throws with 4.1 seconds left.

    Then Boykins, who scored an NBA-record 15 overtime points just two games before, had a chance to force another overtime but missed an open 18-footer at the buzzer.

    "It's difficult because down the stretch we made mental mistakes that hurt us," Boykins said.

    Martin, who grew up in Dallas, led Denver with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Miller had 16 points and 10 assists and Carmelo Anthony, who missed the previous game with a sprained right ankle, had 14 points and five rebounds in 37 minutes.

    Elson had 10 points and seven rebounds and Boykins had 11 points and six assists.

    Finley scored 17, Jason Terry added 15 and five assists and Stackhouse had 11 points and a season-high 12 rebounds.

    After splitting two lopsided meetings this season, the game was close throughout. Neither team led by more than eight and both seemed lethargic at times, perhaps a reflection of the noon tipoff.

    "We were a little sluggish early," said Dallas' Alan Henderson, "but the clock still winds down the same way so you've got to get through it."

    Game notes

    Nowitzki was 79-of-84 from the line over his previous 10 games. ... Denver F Nene missed the fourth and final game of a suspension for fighting. ... A skit during a second-quarter timeout fizzled because of a wardrobe malfunction: an inflatable character sprung a leak. ... Dallas F Josh Howard left in the first quarter with back spasms and didn't return. ... X-rays on Camby's ankle were negative.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 93 95
    FGM-FGA 36-85 (.424) 36-78 (.462)
    3PM-3PA 3-14 (.214) 4-11 (.364)
    FTM-FTA 18-23 (.783) 19-27 (.704)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 15-42 18-50
    Assists 22 14
    Turnovers 9 18
    Steals 9 5
    Blocks 1 6
    Fast Break Points 15 10
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 23 (2/0) 18 (1/0)
    Largest Lead 8 8

    Top Performers

    Andre Miller Miller
    Points: 16
    Reb: 8
    Ast: 10
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 0
    Dirk Nowitzki Nowitzki
    Points: 35
    Reb: 11
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 3
    Blk: 3