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12/29/2012 12:37 AM EST
Gallinari, Nuggets spoil Nowitzki's return, 106-85
DENVER 106, DALLAS 85

By SCHUYLER DIXON
AP Sports Writer

DALLAS (AP) -- Danilo Gallinari was the European big man hitting
3-pointers, and he spoiled Dirk Nowitzki's first home game for
the Dallas Mavericks since coming back from knee surgery.



The Denver forward was 7 of 11 from long range and finished with
a career-high 39 points as the Nuggets handed the Mavericks
their fifth straight loss, 106-85, on Friday night.



"He was one of the best players in the game," Gallinari, a
6-foot-10 forward from Italy, said of the 7-foot Nowitzki from
Germany. "So you always try to follow and learn from the best.
I've watched a lot of videos from him."



Nowitzki, who missed the first 27 games after surgery late in
the preseason, had five points in 17 minutes in his third game
back. He made two of his first four shots after entering the
game to a loud ovation midway through the first quarter. But he
missed his last six shots and didn't play in the fourth quarter
a night after an overtime loss at Oklahoma City.



"I was a step slow," Nowitzki said. "That was obvious. I had no
lift in my jumper. Everything was in and out. That last little
thing is still missing. Really, these are my first games in a
long time. So it's ugly. I've got to keep fighting, keep working
hard in practice days and eventually I'll be able to come back."



O.J. Mayo led Dallas with 15 points but was just 1 of 6 on
3-pointers. The Mavericks shot 38 percent and made just 5 of 25
from long range.



With the Nuggets up 50-47, Gallinari scored five points in the
final 5 seconds of the first half, hitting a 3-pointer and
scoring on a tip-in just before the buzzer after Denver knocked
away a long inbound pass.



Gallinari, whose previous career high was 37 against the New
York Knicks last January, opened the second half with a
3-pointer to put Denver up by 11, and Andre Iguodala followed
with four from long range in the third quarter, including one
after the Mavericks had pulled within five. Gallinari and
Iguodala scored all 12 of Denver's points during a stretch that
ended with the Nuggets up by 14 late in the third.



Iguodala finished with 20 and was 4-of-6 shooting from long
range. Denver made 12 of 28 from behind the arc.



"When we make shots, I think we're pretty good," Denver coach
George Karl said. "Iguodala made a couple of shots right at the
end of the shot clock that were heartbreakers for them."



Nowitzki made a surprise return at San Antonio on Sunday and
played 20 minutes, as planned. He was up to nearly 26 1/2 after
playing briefly in overtime of a 111-105 loss to the Thunder on
Thursday night. He missed his first two shots against the
Nuggets, including his signature one-legged fadeway, before
making a 3-pointer and a 19-footer.



A few of Nowitzki's six misses the rest of the night rattled in
and out.



"It was too much tonight," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "It
was back-to-back games and he isn't limping or anything, but he
just can't give us what everyone expects him to give."



Kenneth Faried outrebounded the Mavericks by himself in the
first quarter and finished with 19 rebounds and 11 points, his
seventh double-double in the past 10 games. The Nuggets had 60
rebounds to 43 for Dallas, and outscored the Mavericks 19-6 in
second-chance points in the first three quarters.



"It's a problem that isn't going to go away by talking about
it," Carlisle said. "I know we can do it."



Mayo was a little better after a four-game slump punctuated by
matching his season low with four points and missing two of
three free throws with a chance to tie the score in the loss to
Oklahoma City. But he had just two points and took just four
shots in the second half.



Gallinari capped a 15-2 run in the first quarter with a
3-pointer and two free throws to give the Nuggets a 21-8 lead.
The Mavericks, who fell to 3-10 against teams with winning
records, answered with a 10-0 run in the second quarter and got
as close as 40-38 on a 3-pointer by Vince Carter.



NOTES: The Mavericks were given a technical foul when Carlisle
called a timeout with 3:02 remaining when he didn't have any
timeouts left. ... Mavericks G Darren Collison fell three points
shy of his career high with 32 in Thursday's 111-105 overtime
loss at Oklahoma City. He had his career high at Dallas in
February 2010. ... The Nuggets had double-digit 3-pointers for
the second straight game after going the first 29 without one.
They were 8-0 last year when they had 10 or more 3s. ... Nuggets
G Ty Lawson had 14 assists and no turnovers against the Lakers,
the first Denver player to do that since Nick Van Exel against
the Mavericks almost 11 years ago.

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