‘Melo leads Nuggets past Mavericks | SummitDaily.com

‘Melo leads Nuggets past Mavericks

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Suiting up for his first game since undergoing surgery for testicular cancer in January, Denver Nuggets forward Nene, left, of Brazil, is greeted back to the court by Dallas Mavericks forward Juwan Howard before the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Denver on Thursday, March 27, 2008. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER ” Carmelo Anthony scored 32 points and sparked the decisive run in the third quarter of the Denver Nuggets’ 118-105 win over the sliding Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night.

Allen Iverson added 31 points for the Nuggets, who won their fourth straight and moved into a tie with Golden State for the eighth and final playoff spot, one game behind the Mavericks.

The Warriors played Portland later Thursday night.

The Nuggets’ grand night was capped when forward Nene entered the game with 1:17 left, marking his return to the court 2 1/2 months after surgery to remove a malignant testicular tumor, and just over a month after undergoing chemotherapy.

He was given a rousing standing ovation as teammate Kenyon Martin embraced him in a bear hug.

Nene hoped to play 5 minutes, but those plans were scrapped when the Nuggets fell behind early.

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“It’s not about how he plays,” coach George Karl said an hour before tip-off. “We’re just happy he’s back and we’re going to celebrate his health, we’re going to celebrate his coming off of major cancer surgery, and we’re just going to celebrate. This has nothing to do with basketball. We’re just happy he’s with us.”

The Nuggets also got 10 boards from Anthony and overcame a 30-point night by Josh Howard and 19 points and 15 assists from Jason Kidd.

The Mavericks are 10-9 since acquiring Kidd from New Jersey, but none of the wins was against teams with winning records. Six of their final 10 games are against teams above .500.

Dallas fell to 1-1 since losing MVP Dirk Nowitzki indefinitely with knee and ankle injuries.

After trailing by 15 points early, the Nuggets took a 94-86 lead into the fourth quarter.

Kidd was left unguarded on the left elbow and swished a 3-pointer in the third quarter to give the Mavericks a 79-71 lead, but the Nuggets responded with an 18-2 run.

Anthony scored half of the points in the game-turning spurt. His breakaway slam dunk gave Denver its first lead since the opening minutes, and Anthony Carter followed with a breakaway finger-roll to make it 82-79 and force a timeout.

After a jumper by Howard, Anthony sank four free throws with 3:17 left in the third quarter for an 86-81 lead after Dallas coach Avery Johnson and Howard received technicals for arguing a personal foul on Howard.

Howard surpassed his scoring average of 19.6 points with a 22-point first half, leading Dallas to a 70-60 lead at the break.

With 16 points, Jerry Stackhouse (10.6) also surpassed his scoring average by halftime. So did Kidd (10.6) with 13 points as Dallas shot 60 percent from the field.

Stackhouse made just one basket in the second half.

The Mavericks made 14 of their first 19 shots and jumped to a 39-28 lead. They stretched their lead to 13 points in the second quarter before Denver’s 11-0 run sparked by 3-pointers from super-subs Eduardo Najera, J.R. Smith and Linas Kleiza, pulled the Nuggets to 49-45.

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