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Preview: Mavericks (33-49) at Nuggets (54-28)
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Date: March 14, 2019 10:30 PM EDT

The Denver Nuggets went from a solid hold to a shaky one on the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference as the Houston Rockets kept winning and climbing.


It didn't help that Denver went into a tailspin, losing four of five games and getting an earful from coach Michael Malone after a poor effort at Golden State on Friday. Malone's words, emphasized over the three-day gap between games, had an impact.

The Nuggets put together one of their best games in a 133-107 win over the short-handed Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night. They don't have the luxury of resting on that performance with a home game against the reeling Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night.

Dallas has lost six straight and 11 of 12 but can still be dangerous. The Mavericks nearly beat Houston on Sunday and gave San Antonio a fight despite a compromised Luka Doncic, who played with a left knee strain suffered against Houston.

Doncic had 12 points and suffered through a 1-for-7 shooting night from 3-point range in 34 minutes against the Spurs.

"He had a rough night," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said after the game. "I probably played him too many minutes."

Dallas had more adversity Wednesday when its flight to Denver was delayed by a snowstorm, dubbed the "bomb cyclone" blew through Colorado. But there were smiles around the Mavericks after Kristaps Porzingis practiced 5-on-5 with the team on Wednesday.

Porzingis suffered an ACL tear with the New York Knicks last year and hasn't played since. The Mavericks acquired the 7-foot-3 forward in a blockbuster deal on Jan. 31 but it is highly unlikely he'll play this season.

"It's been almost 13 months since I played 5-on-5," Porzingis said after practice. "It felt great to be back on the court, be back with the guys and enjoy what I truly, truly love."

Porzingis said he has played 3-on-3 before Wednesday and feels good at this point in his recovery.

"My body has changed since I got hurt. I feel stronger on the court, I'm moving well," he said. "I'm really happy with the progress that we've made."

Porzingis won't be on the court Thursday, and Doncic's availability could be in doubt, but retiring forward Dirk Nowitzki is going to play his last game in Denver. He will face a Nuggets team that is on the rise and looking to solidify its position in the Western Conference.

Tuesday was a good start. After showing a stagnant offense over the previous five games Denver had a season-high 40 assists on 51 field goals against the Timberwolves.

"After the last couple of days, the film sessions and just harping on ball movement and being selfless and playing for each other, for us to go out there and get 40 assists on 51 field goals, was refreshing and fun to watch," Malone said after the game.

The ball was moving against Minnesota and not sticking with one player. No one had more than eight assists in the win and five players had four or more with Mason Plumlee leading the way with eight.

But it was one game, and with some tough matchups ahead, the Nuggets can't overlook any team if they want to hold onto the No. 2 seed -- and possibly move past Golden State for No. 1.

"We're focused on the bigger picture right now," Plumlee said after the game. "There's a chance to do something special."

--Field Level Media

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 Team  ML   SPR   O/U 
 DAL  +550   +11.5   220.5 
 DEN  -800   -11.5   

 Team  ML   SPR   O/U 
 DAL  +600   +12   220.5 
 DEN  -850   -12   

 Team  ML   SPR   O/U 
 DAL  2%   9%   80% 
 DEN  98%   91%   20% 
Betting Trends by

 Feb 22, 2019  Score  ATS Results 
 DEN « 114 Cover: 3 
 DAL 104 Under: 218 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Dec 18, 2018  Score  ATS Results 
 DAL 118 Over: 244 
 DEN « 126 Cover: 3.5 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Mar 6, 2018  Score  ATS Results 
 DEN 107 Over: 225 
 DAL « 118 Cover: 17.5 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Jan 27, 2018  Score  ATS Results 
 DAL 89 Cover: 6 
 DEN « 91 Under: 180 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Jan 16, 2018  Score  ATS Results 
 DAL 102 Cover: 3 
 DEN « 105 Under: 207 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Dec 4, 2017  Score  ATS Results 
 DEN 105 Over: 227 
 DAL « 122 Cover: 15 
 Tools:   Recaps

 Thursday, Mar 14
  •  Cavaliers at Magic
7:05 PM EDT
  •  Thunder at Pacers
7:05 PM EDT
  •  Kings at Celtics
7:35 PM EDT
  •  Lakers at Raptors
8:05 PM EDT
  •  Timberwolves at Jazz
9:05 PM EDT
  •  Mavericks at Nuggets
10:35 PM EDT
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