Nuggets sent to sixth consecutive loss

DENVER (AP) -- On a night when Dirk Nowitzki was off-target and
Steve Nash was sore, Michael Finley filled the void.

Nowitzki shot 2-for-13 and scored nine points, but Finley scored
31 points and Nash added 14 of his 18 points in the second half
Wednesday night as the Dallas Mavericks dealt the undermanned
Denver Nuggets their sixth consecutive loss, 80-75.

"Boy, did we need Finley," Dallas coach Don Nelson said.

"With Nash and Nowitzki iffy to start the game, I don't think we
could have one the game without him."

"He was just the one guy that I didn't think I could afford to
have out of the game,"
Nelson said.

Finley shot 12-for-27 and had 27 points after three quarters.
Nash was 8-for-8 from the free throw line as Dallas defeated the
Nuggets for the fifth straight time.

"I didn't have a particularly great game. I just did enough for
us to win," said Finley, who had 33 points the night before in a
win over Indiana. "I think as a whole, that's all we did as a team
-- just enough to win."

Nowitzki played with a sprained right ankle. Nash had a variety
of nagging leg injuries.

"In a game where everybody is not 100 percent, everybody has to
pick it up," Finley said.

Juwan Howard led the Nuggets, who dressed 10 players, with 21
points. Denver shot only 36 percent and had difficulty in its first
game without James Posey, the team's second-leading scorer who was
dealt to Houston earlier in the day in a three-team trade.

"The trade left us with a starting backcourt, one that was
undrafted (Junior Harrington) and one taken in the second round
(Vincent Yarbrough), to work against Nash and Finley," Denver
coach Jeff Bzdelik said. "This left us with a learning process and
we are learning the hard way."

Harrington and Yarbrough combined for 12 points and six of
Denver's 21 turnovers.

"I realize teams are going to use their experience against
me," said Harrington, who shot 3-for-7. "I can only come ready to

Denver opened the fourth quarter with baskets by Rodney White
and Mark Blount to trail 64-55, but Nick Van Exel made a 3-pointer
to put the lead back to double digits, 69-57 with 8:36 left.

Nowitzki, 1-for-9 through three quarters, hit a 3-pointer with
5:53 remaining to put the Mavericks ahead 74-60. After Finley's
3-pointer pushed the lead to 77-65, Donnell Harvey's dunk and a
basket and two free throws got the Nuggets within 77-71 with 1:57

Nash converted two free throws, but Denver managed only a free
throw by Harvey and Nikoloz Tskitishvili's 3-pointer in the last

After leading by five at the half, Nash and Finley hit pull-up
jumpers to extend the Mavericks' lead to 46-37. Denver failed to
score on its first seven possessions in the third quarter before
Harvey's free throw with 8:33 left in the quarter.

Yarbrough followed with a finishing dunk, but Nash and Finley
accounted for the remaining 18 Dallas points in the quarter. The
Mavericks took a 69-57 lead into the fourth quarter after Finley
made two shots in last minute.

Finley scored seven points as Dallas closed the first quarter
with a 11-2 run to lead 20-14. The Nuggets, 5-for-25 in the period,
went over six minutes without a field goal.

Dallas' lead was 42-37 at halftime as Finley went 4-for-8 and
had 10 points in the second quarter.

Game notes
Van Exel, formerly of the Nuggets, was soundly booed when
entering the game with 3:24 left in the first quarter and every
time he touched the ball. ... Raef LaFrentz, who went to Dallas
along with Van Exel in a trade last season, received a mixture of
boos and cheers when introduced. ... The Mavericks are 4-2 on the
second night of back-to-back games. ... Prior to the game, the
Nuggets waived guard Kenny Satterfield. ... Denver has been held
below 80 points 13 times. ... The Nuggets have lost 19 straight on


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