Dallas 115, Denver 95

DALLAS, Feb. 24 (AP) -- Dirk Nowitzki fell two assists short of his first triple-double and the Mavericks stretched their club-record home winning streak to 19 games with their second-highest point total of 2007.

Still, the post-game topic in the Dallas locker room was defense.

Nowitzki had 31 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists as the Mavericks won their 11th in a row overall with a 115-95 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night.

At halftime, the Mavericks talked about doing a better defensive job on the Nuggets' top two offensive threats, Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson. That duo combined for 37 first-half points - 19 from Anthony and 18 from Iverson.

Dallas clamped down in the second half as Anthony finished with 34 points and Iverson had 26. Iverson also had nine turnovers and Anthony had seven.

"Everybody played defense tonight,'' said Dallas' Josh Howard, who had 27 points despite playing on a sore right ankle. "(Anthony and Iverson) are great players. They came out red hot. In the second half we limited them to one shot and stopped them in transition.''

Iverson's ballhandling mistakes were costly.

"My turnovers hurt the Nuggets tonight,'' said Iverson, 0-for-6 from the field with three turnovers in the fourth quarter. "I would never say that was a good game for me even if I scored 40 points.''

Dallas' increased defensive intensity thwarted Denver's transition game. Devin Harris took over the primary defensive assignment on Iverson in the second half, drawing two charging calls against Iverson and pulling down a career-best seven rebounds.

"They had a good defensive plan in the second half,'' Iverson said. "Harris did a great job but he ain't out there playing defense by himself. They switched it up. Sometimes they jumped out on me, other times they were there to stop the penetration.''

The Mavericks are making these double-digit win streaks almost routine, becoming the fourth team in NBA history with three winning streaks of 10 or more in a season. Dallas already has streaks of 12 and 13 games this season. The Milwaukee Bucks (1970-71), Philadelphia 76ers (1980-81) and Los Angeles Lakers (1999-2000) are the other teams with three winning streaks of 10 or more in a season.

Jerry Stackhouse added 16 points off the bench for Dallas, which has won 46 of 51 after opening the season at 0-4.

The Mavericks' reserves outscored the Nuggets' bench 39-14, a statistic that did not escape Dallas coach Avery Johnson.

"When I talked to the team after the game, I singled out those guys,'' Johnson said.

Marcus Camby added 10 points and 17 rebounds for the Nuggets, who lost their fourth in a row.

The Nuggets were on the second leg of a back-to-back, having lost 114-104 at Utah on Friday night, and did not arrive in Dallas until 4:30 a.m. on Saturday.

Denver committed 23 turnovers that led to 23 Dallas points.

"Turnovers are the No. 1 thing that takes confidence away from your team,'' Nuggets coach George Karl said. "You know you've made a mistake. Turnovers create a lot of easy baskets. It's easy to play offense when you get 23 points off turnovers.''

Stackhouse's 3-pointer with 5:33 left in the third quarter capped Dallas' 11-2 run as the Mavericks expanded their lead to 77-63. Iverson was so frustrated that he bounced the ball high in the air after Stackhouse's 3, earning a technical foul.

Karl earned a technical of his own earlier in the quarter when he complained about an officiating decision.

The Nuggets pulled to 88-79 after three quarters, but the Mavericks went on to build leads of as many as 20 points in the fourth.

Denver got off to a fast start, taking a 33-29 advantage after one quarter behind Iverson's 13 points.

But Dallas used a 31-23 second quarter and got 20 first-half points from Howard, his highest-scoring half of the season, to take a 60-56 lead into the break.

Howard made eight straight field goal attempts during one first-half stretch.

Notes: Antoine Walker had the Mavericks' last triple-double, on Jan. 14, 2004 against Philadephia when he had 11 points, 17 rebounds and 13 assists. ... Dallas hasn't lost at home since a 92-83 defeat to Detroit on Dec. 7. ... The Mavericks were without Devean George (knee). George expects to miss at least two more games with the first knee injury of his career. ... Denver's J.R. Smith is also out with a knee injury. ... The Nuggets have lost 18 of their last 19 games in Dallas.


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