The status of Nuggets starting center Nene remains unknown entering Saturday night’s rematch in Dallas.
Denver (3-2) was already playing without Kenyon Martin(notes) and top reserve Chris Andersen(notes) (offseason knee surgeries) when Nene was sidelined by a groin injury before Wednesday’s game against the Mavericks. The injury ended a career-long streak of 94 consecutive starts in regular season games for the Brazilian big man.
With no player taller than 6-9 appearing on the court, the Nuggets got outrebounded 45-39 by the Mavericks. Dallas 7-footer Dirk Nowitzki(notes) scored a season-high 35 points, shot 15 of 31 from the floor and grabbed 12 rebounds.
Even with that performance, the Mavericks (3-1) emerged from Denver with a 102-101 victory only after Anthony’s 22-foot shot rimmed out in the final seconds.
“Definitely a grind-out kind of game,” Nowitzki said. “Heck of a win.”
Doing his best to compensate for Nene’s absence, Anthony had a team-high 15 rebounds to go with his 20 points.
“Dallas is a very difficult match up with when you’re 100 percent,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “We fought hard, had a lot of pride, a lot of will. We just came up short.”
Nene’s absence didn’t seem to affect Karl’s club as much Friday night in a 111-104 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. Anthony, playing after treatment for a sore right elbow which has bothered him this week, had a season-high 30 points to lead six Denver players in double figures.
“I got some real good work done (Thursday) night on my elbow, loosened it up and put it back in place,” said Anthony, who hit 14 of his 20 shots from the field and both of his free-throw attempts. “It felt good. That was one of the keys.”
The Nuggets, who have alternated wins and losses through their first five games, will try to end that trend with their fourth victory in their last six visits to Dallas.
Denver, though, fell 109-93 at the American Airlines Center on March 29 as Nowitzki scored 34 points. Anthony missed 10 of 13 field-goal attempts and finished with 10 points.
While Nowitzki has scored at least 34 in each of his last two games against Denver, Anthony hasn’t topped 20 in any of his last four meetings with Dallas.
After facing each other twice during the season’s first two weeks, the Nuggets and Mavericks won’t meet again until Feb. 10 in Denver.