Nuggets Vs. Mavericks: J.R. Smith Leads Balanced Denver Attack Over Dallas, 104-96

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Nuggets Vs. Mavericks, Final Score: J.R. Smith Leads Balanced Attack In Denver Win

J.R. Smith took his turn leading the balanced Nuggets in scoring, tallying 23 points off the bench, as Denver edged Dallas, 104-96, in what could be a playoff preview.

Kenyon Martin posted 18 points and six rebounds, Wilson Chandler added 16 points, while Nene contributed nine points and 15 rebounds for the Nuggets, who won their third straight over the Mavericks and sit in fifth place in the Western Conference standings, three games up on both New Orleans and Portland with four games remaining.

Shawn Marion led Dallas with 21 points and 10 rebounds, Dirk Nowitzki donated 20 points, Jason Terry 15 and Corey Brewer 13 off the bench. Brendan Haywood grabbed a season-high 19 rebounds, including eight offensive boards, but remarkably took just one shot.

The Mavericks are 2 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Lakers, currently playing in Golden State, for the second spot in the playoff race, but now hold just a one-game lead on Oklahoma City after its third consecutive loss. If they drop to the fourth spot, they could host these same Nuggets in the first round.

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Nuggets Vs. Mavericks Score: Shawn Marion Helps Dallas Close The Gap, Trail 72-69 After Three

Dallas spent most of the first part of the third quarter turning the ball over and allowing the Nuggets to build as big as a 16 point lead. The Mavericks settled down however, and were able to trim the Denver lead down to just three 72-69 as the fourth quarter begins. 

Without Jason Kidd in the lineup, Dallas has struggled with 12 turnovers which the Nuggets have turned into 17 points. Shawn Marion leads Dallas with 17 points and eight rebounds. Dirk Nowitzki has 12 points while Corey Brewer has provided a spark with 13 points off the bench. Brendan Haywood got the start for injured center Tyson Chandler and has responded with 17 rebounds through three quarters of play. 

Wilson Chandler leads five Denver players in double figures with 16 points. Kenyon Martin has 12 while Danilo Gallinari, Al Harrington, and J.R. Smith all have ten points apiece. Both teams have shot 45% from the floor through three quarters. 

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Nuggets Vs. Mavericks Score: Wilson Chandler Helps Nuggets To 53-43 Lead At Halftime

The surprising Denver Nuggets have a 53-43 halftime advantage over the Mavericks in Dallas behind the strong play of Wilson Chandler and Nene Hilario. Chandler leads a balanced Denver attack with 11 points but five other players have scored at least six. Nene recorded eight points and eight rebounds in the first half. 

The Mavericks struggled with 10 turnovers in the first half. Shawn Marion leads Dallas with 11 points and six rebounds. Dirk Nowitzki has six points but only has six shot attempts from the field. Corey Brewer came off the bench to score nine for the Mavs. 

Everyone keeps waiting for the shoe to drop on Denver post Carmelo Anthony trade but Nuggets coach George Karl has has his team playing as a unit and sharing the load offensively. The Mavericks will have to get Nowitzki more involved in the offense if they want to pull out a victory tonight. 

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Nuggets Vs. Mavericks Score: Kenyon Martin Drives Denver To Early Lead

The Denver Nuggets hold a 21-13 lead over the Dallas Mavericks at the end of the first quarter, with Kenyon Martin's six points, two boards, and two steals leading the way. The game was tight until Wilson Chandler hit a three-pointer and Martin followed with back-to-back scores. 

Sort of surprised I'm allowed to type all this right now, considering Mavs owner Mark Cuban's stance on people writing about his team without his approval. The Mavs will need to get it going to avoid their fourth-straight loss and further Cuban-related distractions.

DeShawn Stevenson had a difficult first quarter, finding himself in foul trouble with two personals and missing all three of his field goal attempts. The Mavs as a whole hit only eight of their 25 shots.

For more on this game, Mavs fans should head to Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas, and Nuggets fans should join Denver Stiffs and SB Nation Denver.

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Nuggets Vs. Mavericks: Does Dirk Nowitzki Have Enough Help To Keep Dallas Afloat?

The Dallas Mavericks host the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday (8:30 p.m. ET, local TV and League Pass). Denver is entrenched in the No. 5 seed in the West bracket of the NBA Playoffs, but Dallas has something to play for. The Oklahoma City Thunder are just two games behind the Mavericks for No. 3 in the West and own the tiebreaker; if Dallas loses a couple games and the Thunder win out, the Mavs would find themselves facing a Denver buzzsaw instead of a less imposing (but still fierce) Blazers, Hornets or Grizzlies squad.

Think about it from Denver's angle now. If they beat Dallas here and get some help from one of the Mavericks' remaining opponents, the Nuggets can avoid a Thunder team that kicked them in the teeth pretty brutally on Tuesday and instead draw this very Mavs squad. There's real incentive to win here and hope for a first-round series against Dallas, even if Denver doesn't really have anything personal to play for.

Dallas needs some momentum; the team's lost three straight, one of them a brutal beatdown by a Lakers team that went on to lose to Denver and Utah in back-to-back games. Only Dirk Nowitzki is keeping Dallas alive, though Shawn Marion has been more frequently good than bad, even of late. Jason Terry is struggling, Jason Kidd is doing the same thing he did a year ago (disappearing) and no one else has been able to fill the void consistently. The Nuggets, meanwhile, have plenty of sub-marquee studs playing great right now, from Danilo Gallinari to Ty Lawson to Nene to Wilson Chandler. It's an interesting contrast, a permutation of the old Lakers-Suns clashes.

For Mavericks analysis and chatter, check out Mavs Moneyball. For more on the Nuggets, visit Denver Stiffs.

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