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Mavericks-Nuggets Preview

AP - Sports

After losing their first two home games this season, the Denver Nuggets seem to have recaptured their 2012-13 form at the Pepsi Center.

One season removed from posting the NBA's best home record, the Nuggets will go for a fifth straight win on their floor Saturday night against the Dallas Mavericks.

The Nuggets (5-6), who won their final 23 home games last season to finish 38-3 in Denver, had one of their best defensive nights this season in Thursday's 97-87 home win over Chicago.

Denver held the Bulls to 38.8 percent shooting - a season low for a Nuggets opponent - and limited them to only 14 points in the third quarter.

The defensive effort helped the Nuggets overcome a 12-for-22 night at the foul line. They're 37 for 65 from the stripe in their last two games and remain among the worst in the league at 69.7 percent.

They were also outrebounded 58-48. In their last two contests, they've been outworked on the offensive glass by a 41-23 margin.

"I'm happy to get the win, but not happy with our two areas that seem to be our nemesis," coach Brian Shaw told the team's official website. "When we are playing good teams like the Bulls, those are areas that you can't continue to give the other team the advantage and expect to come away with the win. We're fortunate to be able to win the game."

Reserve Jordan Hamilton led the Nuggets with 17 points, while leading scorer Ty Lawson was held to a season-low 10 after averaging 28.5 in his previous two. Former Bulls guard Nate Robinson added 11 off the bench.

"Coach talked about (trying) to keep them under 85 points and continue to compete," Robinson said. "We needed this win to catapult us to get ready for our next opponent."

They can get to .500 for the first time this season with a third win against Dallas in four tries. Denver won its first two against Dallas last season before the Mavericks earned a 108-105 home win in the most recent meeting April 12.

The Mavs (9-4) have won four in a row after Friday's 103-93 home victory over Utah. Dallas, which didn't win five in a row all of last season, improved to 7-0 at home for the first time since 2003. The Mavericks are 2-4 on the road this season.

They held the Jazz to 34 first-half points on 38.9 percent shooting but weren't able to maintain the intensity, allowing 59 points after the break as Utah got within five.

"It was disappointing, but wins are hard to get so it's a good win from that perspective," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "Our execution was poor in the second half on both ends; it was pretty obvious."

Monta Ellis scored 26 points, going 8 of 19 from the floor and 9 of 10 at the free throw line. The guard, in his first season with Dallas, has cracked 30 points in four of his last eight against Denver, including 38 on April 15 while with Milwaukee. He's averaging 26.8 points in those games dating to Jan. 5, 2010.

Center Samuel Dalembert went 8 of 8 for 18 points with 12 rebounds against the Jazz.

Filling in for the injured Brandan Wright, who is yet to play this season, Dalembert has 36 rebounds in his last three games. He's pulled down at least 10 in each of those contests after failing to reach double-digits in his first 10 games this season.

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