Mavericks 91, Nuggets 88

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DENVER (AP)—Somewhat out of sync earlier in the game, Michael Finley gathered himself in the closing minutes.

Finley scored five points in the final 1:26, and the Dallas Mavericks held on to beat the Denver Nuggets 91-88 on Friday night.

Finley hit a clutch 3-pointer with 1:26 left for an 89-84 lead. Then, after the Nuggets reduced the lead to one point, he sank two free throws with 5.7 seconds to go.

“Finley made the big five points,” Dallas coach Don Nelson said. “He really struggled before that. He didn’t look like he had a good rhythm tonight.”

Finley said he was primed for the big finish.

“When my number was called, I was ready to step up and knock down the big shots,” he said. “I know what I’m capable of doing.”

Dirk Nowitzki had 22 points for Dallas, which led by eight points with 4:56 remaining before seeing the margin reduced to one.

Andre Miller scored 28, including eight straight Denver points to cut the lead to 89-88, but Finley accounted for the final margin with his two free throws.

Finley and Antawn Jamison each had 16 points for the Mavericks, who won their third straight game, and Antoine Walker had 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Rodney White added 14 points for Denver, which has lost three of its last four games. Nene had 12 points, and Carmelo Anthony had 11 points and 12 rebounds.

Nowitzki’s two free throws made it 86-78 with 4:56 left, but Miller scored four of the next six Denver points, making it 86-84.

Finley’s 3-pointer gave Dallas a five-point lead.

Miller’s driving layup and two subsequent free throws cut the lead to 89-88 with 37 seconds left.

Nowitzki was called for an offensive foul, but Denver’s Earl Boykins missed a 3-pointer.

Boykins then fouled Finley, who made two free throws.

Anthony was fouled with 3 seconds left. He missed the first free throw and intentionally missed the second. Denver got the ball back and inbounded with 0.9 seconds left, but White’s desperation shot was way short.

“Our effort was really good,” Nuggets coach Jeff Bzdelik said. “There were just a lot of little things throughout the course of the game that prevented us from having a big win tonight.

“We were 9-for-17 from the foul line. We had a couple of defensive breakdowns. A couple of times we got caught not sprinting back defensively in transition. And we had some open looks that we didn’t knock down.”

Dallas point guard Steve Nash didn’t play after straining his hip in the first quarter.

“It may be smart to take a couple of days off now instead of trying to fight through it and then being out a couple of weeks or maybe longer,” Nash said. “I’d like to say that I’ll feel better by Tuesday.”

Despite shooting 65 percent in the first quarter, Dallas led only 28-27. Denver used a 10-2 run to open a 16-10 lead, but the Mavericks scored six straight points late in the period, including Jamison’s slam dunk on a fastbreak.

The Mavericks shot only 19 percent in the second quarter but made 11 of 14 free throws and managed a 47-47 tie at halftime.

White scored three straight baskets early in the quarter as Denver built a four-point lead. Danny Fortson’s three-point play capped his own 6-0 flurry, putting Dallas ahead 47-42 with 2:45 left in the half. Nene’s driving layup and Miller’s fast-break layup helped the Nuggets close the deficit.

Dallas built an eight-point lead early in the third quarter, but Nene, Miller and White helped the Nuggets trim the deficit. The Mavs led 71-67entering the final period.

Notes

Miller also had 10 assists. … The Mavericks signed center Mamadou N’diaye to his second 10-day contract. … Dallas beat Denver 115-101 in Dallas on Nov. 22. Denver prevailed 113-103 at home on Nov. 28, ending a nine-game losing streak to the Mavs. … Walker had triple-doubles in the two previousgames.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Dallas
D. Nowitzki D. Nowitzki
8-18,  22 Pts
7 Rebs, 2 Assists
 Denver
A. Miller A. Miller
12-20,  28 Pts
5 Rebs, 10 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists