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Wednesday, February 8, 2012
W2W4: Mavs' road doesn't get easier in Denver

By Tim MacMahon



DENVER – There are a lot easier places to snap a losing streak than the Pepsi Center.

The Nuggets are an NBA-best 140-36 (.795) on their high-altitude home court since the beginning of the 2007-08 season. They’ve won six of the last eight meetings against the Mavs in Denver.

Plus, the Nuggets have established themselves as a superstar-less threat in the Western Conference. The first four-game losing streak of the Dallas’ season is a distinct possibility, especially if the Mavs can’t figure out how to avoid repeating their recent post-halftime horror shows.

Then again, this is as good a time as any to face the Nuggets, who will be missing scoring leader Danilo Gallinari for about a month due to a severe left ankle sprain and have a few other rotation players nursing injuries. Denver has lost five of its last six games, including three in a row at home.

Records: Nuggets 15-10, Mavs 14-11

When: 8:00

Where: Pepsi Center

TV: FSSW

Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM; 1270 AM (Spanish)

What to watch: The Mavs will try to get out of a nasty offensive rut – averaging only 87.0 points during their three-game losing streak – against the NBA’s highest-scoring team. They better hope that Dirk Nowitzki’s sudden groove continues and that the guys who stepped up while the Mavs’ MVP was struggling can get going again.

Key matchup: Ty Lawson vs. Delonte West/Rodrigue Beaubois
Lawson, who has emerged as one of the West’s best young guards, presents a whole different set of problems for the Mavs’ combo guards, who are struggling to fill Jason Kidd's shoes. The lightning-quick Lawson is averaging 15.5 points and 6.4 assists, and he’s the primary reason the Nuggets average an NBA-best 21.2 fast break points per night. He’ll have the ball in his hands even more often with Gallinari sidelined. Lawon had 27 points on 10-of-15 shooting in the Nuggets day-after-Christmas rout in Dallas. West and Beaubois had enough on their plate anyway, struggling with the burden of orchestrating the Mavs’ out-of-sync offense while Kidd recovers from a strained right calf.

Injuries: Mavs – G Jason Kidd (right calf strain) is doubtful. Nuggets – F Danilo Gallinari (ankle) is out; C/PF Nene (heel) is questionable; C Timofey Mozgov (ankle) is out; SF Corey Brewer (personal reasons) is doubtful; SG Arron Afflalo (ankle) is probable; SG/SF Rudy Fernandez (back) is probable.

Up next: Mavs at Minnesota Timberwolves, 7 p.m., Friday.