DENVER -- Dirk Nowitzki put in one last eye-popping performance in an attempt to get himself in the All-Star game.
And what a performance.
Nowitzki scored a game-high 25 points -- passing Adrian Dantley along the way -- as the Dallas Mavericks carved up the Denver Nuggets 105-95 on Wednesday before 15,970 at the Pepsi Center. The Mavericks (15-11) snapped a three-game losing streak by sending the Nuggets to their fourth consecutive loss.
Afterward, when asked about Nowitzki's game, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said: "An All-Star performance, didn't you think? He's getting back into a groove offensively and he's looking like his old self in terms of moving around on the court. So it's a lot of positives."
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Nowitzki made 11 of 20 shots to pass Dantley to become the No. 21st all-time scorer in NBA history with 23,179 points. Nowitzki also pulled down nine rebounds as the Mavericks built a 17-point cushion in the second period and only had a minor scare from the Nuggets thereafter.
In his past three games, Nowitzki has scored 30, 24 and 25 points.
Meanwhile, when the Nuggets nudged closer to the Mavs in the fourth quarter, Brandan Wright was able to drill three baskets and keep them at bay. Wright finished with 10 points in only 16 minutes.
"He's one of those guys that he plays residual off the other guys," Carlisle said. "We don't run plays for him, but he has a knack for being in the right place at the right time, and he got the ball in the basket two or three critical times."
The Mavs also got big games from Vince Carter (17 points, eight assists), Rodrigue Beaubois (13 points), Shawn Marion (13 points, six rebounds) and Delonte West (nine points, seven rebounds, five assists, three steals).
With three days off, the Mavericks jumped out to a quick 33-25 lead after the first period behind seven points from West and six from Marion. Two 3-pointers and a three-point play by Beaubois and some solid play from Carter staked the Mavericks to a 58-41 lead late in the second quarter.
A 3-point basket from Marion gave the Mavs a 64-53 lead at the half.
About the only bad news for the Mavericks is that Carlisle said guard Jason Terry is dealing with a hip flexor problem that has affected his game. Terry was only 1 of 9 from the field for five points.
"He did not finish the game because of it," Carlisle said. "He's got to get some treatment [today]. and we've got to try to get him ready for Friday [at Minnesota] and Saturday [at home against Portland]."
Going into the game, Terry was already talking about righting ships and defining moments.
It was the first of nine games the Mavs will play before the Feb. 26 All-Star Game.
"This next stretch of games until the All-Star break could be our defining moment in our season," Terry said. "You always look at a season and kind of map out what's going to be the moment, so to speak. And for us I believe it's now until the All-Star game."
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760