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Denver Nuggets close 2012 with back-to-back road games

Dallas and Memphis final stops before stretch of 15 of 18 at home


With 2013 approaching, the Denver Nuggets are in position to celebrate more than just the arrival of a new year.

They can raise a glass and toast to survival.

Heading into back-to-back road games against the Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies, the Nuggets are 16-14 despite playing the fewer home games (10) than anyone in the NBA.

Two weeks ago, coach George Karl told reporters in Minnesota that the Nuggets would have “a celebration” if they could be 17-15 by Jan. 1.

“You have to understand, if we go the rest of the season and lose seven times at home, we just have to win seven on the road to get to 47 wins,” Karl said Thursday. “We’re in a good place.”

After beating the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night, Denver boasts the NBA’s best home record (9-1). It will play 15 of 18 games at Pepsi Center after the quick two-game trip to Dallas and Memphis.

“These next two games are really important for us,” Denver swingman Andre Iguodala said. “We have to focus in and take care of the first one in Dallas. Memphis started off really well and they’re trying get back on track. We don’t want our game to be that game where they do that.”

The Nuggets have enjoyed recent success in Dallas, winning eight of their past 11 games at American Airlines Center. They also have defeated Memphis twice this season, including a 97-92 victory at FedExForum on Nov. 19.

Sharing the ball, recovering in transition and pushing the pace will continue to be the keys for Denver – at home and on the road.

In their past three wins, the Nuggets have recorded 30 assists and 76 fast-break points, while holding the opposition to 42.3 percent shooting.

Iguodala, Corey Brewer and Ty Lawson were among the catalysts against the Lakers, combining for 61 points, 18 rebounds, 22 assists and six steals in a 126-114 victory.

“It was a team effort,” Lawson said. “Three or four of us had big games. We have to continue to play like this.”

Lawson picked apart the Lakers defense, getting into the paint with little interference. He didn’t commit a turnover and finished with a season-high 14 assists – including four that led to 3-pointers.

“We were just knocking down shots and our big men were getting wide open dunks,” Lawson said. “They helped me out with that.”

While Lawson and the Nuggets had Thursday off, the Mavericks were in Oklahoma City to face the Thunder. It marked the second game of the season for Dallas All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki, who missed 27 games while recovering from knee surgery.


NUGGETS AT MAVERICKS


WHEN:
6:30 p.m. MT
WHERE: American Airlines Center, Dallas
TV; RADIO: Altitude; 104.3 FM, AM-950

PROBABLE STARTERS
DENVER

F Danilo Gallinari
F Kenneth Faried
C Kosta Koufos
G Andre Iguodala
G Ty Lawson

DALLAS
F Dahntay Jones
F Shawn Marion
C Chris Kaman
G O.J. Mayo
G Dominique Jones

INJURY REPORT
DENVER:
Wilson Chandler (hip) and Julyan Stone (hip) are out.
DALLAS: None to report.

SERIES NOTES
The Nuggets are 11-7 against the Mavericks in head-to-head matchups since the 2007-08 season, not to mention 15-6 when including the postseason … The Nuggets have gone 8-3 on the road against Dallas the last three regular seasons, however the Mavericks still own a home record of 21-8 against Denver since the 1997-98 season … Denver has posted multiple wins against the Mavericks only four times in the last 16 seasons since 1996-97 … Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki is the last Nuggets opponent to record a triple-double (34 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists at Dallas on 3/29/10) – he was one of only three players with a triple-double against Denver during the 2009-10 season.