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.