Denver wins series 4-1 (Game 3 of 5)

Denver wins series 4-1

Game 1: Sunday, May 3rd
Game 2: Tuesday, May 5th
Game 3: Saturday, May 9th
Game 4: Monday, May 11th
Game 5: Wednesday, May 13th

Nuggets 106

(54-28, 21-20 away)

Mavericks 105

(50-32, 32-9 home)

    Coverage: ESPN/WatchESPN

    5:00 PM ET, May 9, 2009

    American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX

    1 2 3 4 T
    DEN 20 28 31 27106
    DAL 20 25 35 25105

    Top Performers

    Den: C. Billups 32 Pts, 3 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Blk

    Dal: D. Nowitzki 33 Pts, 16 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Blk

    Melo hits winner with less than 5 seconds left to lift Nuggets

    Associated Press

    DALLAS -- Antoine Wright had a simple objective. In a game with 61 fouls already called, he was trying to commit another.

    2009 NBA Playoffs

    Want an in-depth look at the Nuggets-Mavs series? Check out all the stats, analysis and opinion here:

    • Nuggets-Mavs page

    Wright bumped Carmelo Anthony once, hard enough to knock him off stride. But not enough for a foul call.

    So he jostled Anthony again. Still no call -- and now Wright was out of position, leaving Anthony a clear look at the basket. His 3-pointer went right through with a second left, giving the Denver Nuggets a 106-105 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday, and a 3-0 series lead that has been insurmountable in NBA history.

    Stein: Finishing Touch

    The finish to Game 3 was so wild and contentious that things were still happening some two hours after Carmelo Anthony's late dagger from the wing almost certainly finished the seething Mavericks off, writes Marc Stein. Story

    "I have hit a lot of big shots in my short career, but never in a situation like this," Anthony said. "It was a thin line between 2-1 and 3-0."

    It's even thinner than he thinks. About two hours after the game, the league office announced that Wright was right. In a brief statement, NBA president Joel Litvin said, "At the end of the Dallas-Denver game this evening, the officials missed an intentional foul committed by Antoine Wright on Carmelo Anthony, just prior to Anthony's 3-point basket."

    Big Trouble In Big 'D'

    History suggests the Nuggets are in great shape vs. the Mavs. In fact, no team in NBA history has ever lost a playoff series after taking a 3-0 lead. Here's a breakdown of the 86 previous 3-0 margins and how they ended:

    Finish Series
    Won 4-0 52
    Won 4-1 25
    Won 4-2 6
    Won 4-3 3
    Lost 4-3 0

    The Nuggets can consider themselves lucky to be close enough to get saved by a controversial finish.

    They missed 15 of their first 17 shots and made only two longer than 5 feet the entire first half. They finished with as many fouls as field goals and their previously dominant center tandem of Nene and Chris Andersen struggled, Nene missing his first eight shots and "Birdman" fouling out in only 11 minutes.

    Yet Denver never trailed by more than six. The Mavericks' inability to pull away -- take your pick when; the Nuggets never really strung together many baskets -- was as damaging as the non-call against Wright.

    "The game didn't come down to that last play," Dallas guard Jason Kidd said. "You've got to make plays down the stretch, and we just didn't do that."

    The Mavericks led 105-101 with 31 seconds left, then saw Anthony zip in for a quick dunk. Dirk Nowitzki missed a 13-footer with about 8 seconds left and missed a high-arching shot from the corner at the buzzer.

    "This is about as tough of a loss as I've been a part of in my 11 years," said Nowitzki, who overcame a difficult week off the court and a third-quarter leg bruise to score 33 points and grab 16 rebounds. "That's a game we've got to have."

    During the timeout before Anthony's winning shot, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle reminded his players they had a foul to give and told them to use it. Wright's attempt was good enough for the league office, but not for the crew. The official closest to the play was Mark Wunderlich, the same official who did not call a foul on Los Angeles' Derek Fisher at the end of Game 4 of last year's Western Conference finals.

    "What do you want me to do ... take him out and then I get a flagrant two late in the game?" Wright said. "I made a play on the ball like I was told in the huddle and the call wasn't made."

    Nuggets coach George Karl thought it was a great non-call.

    "It seemed like he fumbled the ball," Karl said.

    When time ran out, the crowd fell silent, the Nuggets began to celebrate and the Mavericks began to gripe.

    Fast Facts

    • The Denver Nuggets trailed by four points with 30 seconds left in the fourth, but Carmelo Anthony scored the final five points including the game-winning 3-pointer with 1 second left in the game.

    • Denver improved to 2-1 on the road this postseason after going 2-12 on the road in the playoffs from 2004-08.

    • Chauncey Billups scored 23 of his 32 points in the second half and reached the 30-point plateau for the third time this postseason.

    • Anthony scored 19 of his 31 points in the opening half.

    • The Mavericks fell to 0-7 overall vs. the Nuggets this season.

    • Dirk Nowitzki scored 33 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and was 9-for-19 (47.4 percent) from the field.

    -- ESPN Stats & Information

    Josh Howard was among several clusters of Dallas players who appeared to be exchanging words with Denver players and staff. Owner Mark Cuban brushed by a cameraman on his way to the scene, then blew off steam behind the scorer's table, his face reddening. He declined to comment later.

    "Officiating has to be a science, not an art," Carlisle said. "If I sit here and belabor this it's not going to be good for our league. It's one of those times where it's really an unfortunate thing."

    The Nuggets hold a 3-0 lead in a best-of-seven series for the first time in franchise history and will go for the sweep Monday night.

    All sorts of things are in their favor, from the fact no NBA team up 3-0 has ever lost the series to their 7-0 record against the Mavericks this season. Denver also is the only team to win in Dallas since mid-February; the Nuggets are 2-0 in that span, everyone else 0-17.

    Chauncey Billups showed his championship pedigree by scoring 16 of his 32 points in the third quarter, when Denver was really struggling for baskets. Anthony finished with 31 points, but needed 24 shots. He missed his first seven.

    "We knew it would be a hard-fought game, four-quarter game," Billups said. "We just stayed with it. We came up with a great win."

    The Mavericks were hoping to feed off their crowd, just like the Nuggets did in the first two games at their place, but all the fouls kept the fans from getting into the action. The game was so blah that the public-address announcer reminded everyone at halftime that the team needed them to get more involved.

    Jason Terry had 17 points, but was 5-of-12. Brandon Bass had 16 points but 12 came on free throws. Howard returned from an ankle injury that sidelined him early in Game 2 and scored 14.

    Game notes

    There was a pregame moment of silence in memory of Chuck Daly, the Hall of Fame coach who died earlier Saturday. "He was one of basketball's truly humble geniuses," Carlisle said. ... So much for a shortened playoff rotation. Dallas used 10 players in the first quarter, Denver nine.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 106 105
    FGM-FGA 34-81 (.420) 30-75 (.400)
    3PM-3PA 6-15 (.400) 5-15 (.333)
    FTM-FTA 32-40 (.800) 40-49 (.816)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 13-41 11-46
    Assists 15 15
    Turnovers 7 10
    Steals 7 1
    Blocks 5 7
    Fast Break Points 9 21
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 34 (1/0) 27 (2/0)
    Largest Lead 6 6

    Top Performers

    Chauncey Billups Billups
    Points: 32
    Reb: 3
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 1
    Dirk Nowitzki Nowitzki
    Points: 33
    Reb: 16
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 2