Mavericks Vs. Nuggets: Dirk Nowitzki Leads Dallas Over Short-Handed Denver

Dirk Nowitzki and a much deeper bench were enough for the Dallas Mavericks to outlast the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday.

After three consecutive losses, the Dallas Mavericks were in need of some luck to right their path. They got got what they needed in Denver on Wednesday, finding a Nuggets team that got Nene and Arron Afflalo back but still lacked Danilo Gallinari (ankle) and Timofey Mozgov (ankle) and missed Corey Brewer, grieving the death of his father. George Karl, in desperation, plugged Chris Andersen and spottily-used rookie guard Julyan Stone into the lineup. Both played limited minutes and were outshone by their bench replacements, and the hit to Denver's depth hurt them considerably, as Dallas raced ahead early and never quite felt threatened again, winning 105-95.

Dallas built its lead pretty promptly, going ahead by eight halfway through the first quarter and pushing the lead back to that point by quarter's end. They attacked on pretty much every front, getting easy finishes and drawn contact at the rim, as well as hot outside shooting and the usual offering of points from Dirk Nowitzki, who finished with 25. In the second, Dallas' reserves frazzled and out-rebounded an unusually skimpy Denver bench and pushed their lead up into the double-digit range.

The Nuggets, to their credit, made spurts in the second half to keep the Mavericks involved and demand a response. Denver jumpers cut the lead to nine heading into the fourth quarter, but one Mav or another kept stepping up to provide that response, be it the unflappable Dirk, the quiet but improving Lamar Odom, and the developing Brandan Wright. Wright, in fact, seemed to outplay any other Dallas big, leading Mavs Moneyball to wonder about the flexibility of Rick Carlisle's pivot situation:

The Mavs, fresh off the heels of some defensive regression, would seem to have a center controversy, if controversy is the right word. Haywood has played over 20 minutes only once in the last five games (28 against the Pacers), and has broken double digit points or rebounds only once in that span (10 points against the Cavs). Mahimni went from 23 minute against OKC to 16 against the Pacers and 11 against the Nuggets. His rebounding, especially, has not been impressive. Brandan Wright got 25 minutes against OKC, 29 against the Cavs, 16 against the Nuggets.He’s looked like the most polished scorer of the group, but his rebounding (1 in 25 minutes against OKC) needs work, and I’m not sure about his defense. Possibly, rather than looking for the answer at center, Rick's looking for AN answer and doesn't plan to settle down.

Either way, Brandan Wright was the man in Denver, and provided the depth they needed to protect the lead they'd built and withstand Nugget runs.

The Mavericks' win snapped their losing streak and pulled them even with the Nuggets in the Western Conference standings. Both teams are 15-11.

Check out Mavs Moneyball for Dallas coverage and Denver Stiffs for more on the Nuggets.

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