Dallas (21-9) at Denver (20-10)

  • Game info: 8:00 pm EST Sun Dec 27, 2009
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Denver Nuggets haven’t shown much passion or enjoyed much success on the road lately. Returning home to renew their rivalry with the Dallas Mavericks could help them get their game back in gear.

Denver hosts Dallas on Sunday in the first meeting between the teams since last season’s contentious Western Conference semifinals.

The Nuggets (20-10), who have dropped three of four overall, had their Northwest Division lead over Portland trimmed to one game Friday as they lost their fifth straight on the road, 107-96 to the Trail Blazers.

After missing three games with a groin injury, Chauncey Billups(notes) scored 10 points with five assists in the first half but sat out the second. He will miss this game and Tuesday’s visit to Sacramento to give his strained left groin time to heal, with the Nuggets saying they simply hoped to avoid a “lingering problem.”

Even with Billups playing 20 minutes Friday, Denver was limited to four fast-break points.

“We’re not picking the pace up on the road,” coach George Karl told the Nuggets’ official Web site. “We’re not running and attacking. We’re more of a half-court team than a fast-break team.”

Denver is averaging 100.6 points on the road - where the club is 7-9 - compared to 115.3 at the Pepsi Center while posting an NBA-best 13-1 home record.

Including three victories in last season’s playoff matchup, the Nuggets have won seven straight at home against Dallas (21-9) since an 89-85 loss Dec. 31, 2006.

Carmelo Anthony(notes) had a broken bone in his right hand and missed the Mavericks’ last regular-season visit to Denver - a 99-97 Nuggets victory Jan. 13.

Anthony, leading the league with 30.4 points per game, averaged 30.0 and 6.8 rebounds as the Nuggets defeated the Mavericks in a five-game playoff series last spring and advanced to their first West finals since 1985.

After Denver won the first two games at home by an average of 13.0 points, Anthony hit the game-winning 3 with one second remaining in a 106-105 Game 3 victory at Dallas. Antoine Wright(notes) tried to commit a foul before Anthony’s shot, but the referees did not stop play. The league issued a statement soon after the game that an intentional foul should have been called.

Game 3 was marred by a number of incidents in the stands, including Mavericks owner Mark Cuban telling the mother of Denver forward Kenyon Martin(notes) that her son was a thug. Martin was fired $25,000 by the NBA and assessed a flagrant foul 1 for knocking down Dirk Nowitzki(notes) in the first quarter of Game 1.

Cuban will be at his vacation home in the Cayman Islands on Sunday and will also likely miss the Mavericks’ other visit to Denver on Feb. 9.

Josh Howard(notes) and Jason Terry(notes), who both picked up flagrant fouls in the Game 4 victory against Denver, combined to score 20 of Dallas’ 27 fourth-quarter points in Saturday’s 106-101 win over Memphis.

Nowitzki scored all 20 of his points in the first three quarters as the Southwest Division-leading Mavericks salvaged a 2-2 homestand.

“Josh was aggressive, making plays there in the fourth and Jet was on fire there late, so it was fun to watch,” said Nowitzki, who didn’t shoot a free throw for the first time since Dec. 8, 2007.

Nowitzki had 44 points and 14 boards in the Jan. 13 loss in Denver.

Dallas, winner of eight of 10 on the road, will try to snap the Nuggets’ six-game home winning streak.

Three of Denver’s four regular-season wins over the Mavericks in 2008-09 came by three points or fewer.

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Sunday, Dec 27