for this game

Anthony, Nuggets go for season sweep of Mavericks

Mar 26, 2009 - 10:44 PM By Dan Pieringer Stats Writer

Denver (46-26) at Dallas (43-28) 8:30 p.m. EDT

DALLAS (AP) -- Denver Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony said the team's last win may have been its biggest of the season. Another road victory over a Western Conference playoff contender with less than three weeks left in the season would likely go near the top of that list.

The Nuggets try for their seventh win in eight games and the first season series sweep of the Dallas Mavericks in franchise history Friday night.

Anthony scored 29 points to lead Denver (46-26) to a 101-88 win at New Orleans on Wednesday night. Chauncey Billups added 26 points, hitting four of his five 3-pointers in the second half to help the Nuggets pull away and claim their best record through 72 games since joining the NBA.

Anthony said it could have been Denver's most significant win of the season, and coach George Karl said he took particular satisfaction in his club performing so well on the road against a fellow playoff contender.

"What happens at the end of the season is your home games become double the pressure because you can't lose at home," said Karl, whose club has won six of seven after dropping eight of its previous 11. "When you steal one (on the road) against like, New Orleans, it's a double-weighted hammer."

The Northwest Division-leading Nuggets can deliver another blow to a playoff hopeful by defeating the Mavericks (43-28). Four games separate eighth-place Dallas from second-place San Antonio in the tightly bunched West standings.

The Nuggets have won their first three meetings with the Mavericks and are in position to sweep the season series for the first time since the Dallas franchise began play in 1980. Denver last won four games in a season against Dallas in 1994-95, when they took four of five.

The Mavericks went four days between games before returning to the court Wednesday night to rout Golden State 128-106. Dirk Nowitzki scored 26 points and went 8-for-12 from the field, and Jason Terry scored 26 while hitting 10 of 15 shots despite suffering a jammed wrist in practice Tuesday.

"I thought, all things considered, we handled (the layoff) well," coach Rick Carlisle said. "We had two good days of practice. They weren't long practices but they were hard and guys worked."

The Mavericks recorded their highest point total of the season and second-highest field-goal percentage by shooting 58.5 percent against the Warriors. On the other end of the court, however, they know they'll need a better performance to slow down the Nuggets.

"Offensively, we had a pretty good night," Nowitzki said. "Defensively, we had some letdowns. We definitely have to be better defensively as the competition gets better."

Denver, averaging 103.5 points this season, has scored 101.7 in its three wins over Dallas despite being held to 42.2 percent shooting in those games. Anthony has played against the Mavs twice, averaging 25.5 points but shooting 40.5 percent (15-for-37).

Nowitzki has averaged 31.3 points and 11.3 rebounds against the Nuggets this season. He had 44 points and 14 boards while shooting 15-for-26 in the last meeting, a 99-97 road defeat January 13. Billups gave Denver that win with two free throws with 2.2 seconds left after a controversial foul call on Terry.

Nuggets center Nene will miss Friday's game as he completes a two-game suspension for head-butting an opponent and making contact with an official during a loss in Phoenix on Monday night. He's averaging 17.0 points in the three meetings with the Mavericks in 2008-09.