DALLAS -- The Dallas Mavericks got an important rebound victory Friday night over a team that has been a thorn in their side.
Guard Monta Ellis scored 14 of his game-high 26 points in the fourth quarter as Dallas beat the Denver Nuggets for the first time in four tries this season, 122-106 at the American Airlines Center.
Two nights earlier, Dallas lost a five-point lead in overtime to fall to the Minnesota Timberwolves, a team out of playoff contention. This win, combined with the Memphis Grizzlies losing at Miami, pushed Dallas back into the No. 7 seed in a wild three-team playoff chase that also includes the Phoenix Suns for the final two spots.
Dallas (42-28) built a 15-point cushion they would never relinquish with a 21-6 surge midway through the second quarter, turning a 32-32 tie into a 53-38 lead with 5:32 to go in the first half. Reserve forward Jae Crowder, who had recently lost his spot in coach Rick Carlisle's rotation, provided a huge boost with 12 points in the period on perfect 4-for-4 shooting from beyond the arc.
Denver (31-38), playing well of late having won four of five games but well out of playoff contention, put up several runs and got as close as 99-96 with 6:25 to go, but Dallas answered each charge with a run that blew the game wide open in the final minutes.
Ellis finished with seven assists and was 11-for-14 from the floor, and was 6-for-6 in the final period.
Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki finished with 21 points and forward Shawn Marion had 14 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Center Brandan Wright produced 13 points off the bench, as did swingman Vince Carter, who hit three more 3-pointers.
Denver, which led 29-26 after the first quarter but fell behind 61-53 at halftime, was led by center J.J. Hickson's 18 points and eight rebounds off the bench. Guard Ty Lawson had 17 points and nine assists and Randy Foye had 15, all of which came on five 3-pointers.
NOTES: Nuggets F Wilson Chandler returned to the starting lineup from a left hip injury that kept him out of one game. ... Nuggets G Ty Lawson returned to the starting lineup after a sinus infection kept him out of the team's last game. ... Denver won the first three games of the regular-season series, marking only the fifth time since the 1996-97 season that the Nuggets won multiple games against Dallas. ... Friday was Dallas' third game during its franchise-long eight-game homestand spanning 16 days. ... The Mavericks entered the game with 41 wins, equaling their total number of wins from last season.