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Harris' layup lifts Mavs past Nuggets in overtime

DENVER (AP) -- The Denver Nuggets stayed in the game with a
desperation 3-pointer and a trick play that works maybe once a
season. It made the way they lost it seem that much more shocking --
by allowing a run-of-the-mill layup on an unpardonable defensive
slip-up.

Devin Harris found himself wide open under the basket for an
incredibly easy bucket with 2.2 seconds left in overtime Friday
night to lift the Dallas Mavericks to a 114-112 victory over the
Nuggets.

"We definitely had a breakdown on that last play," Nuggets
coach George Karl said.

On the inbound play after a timeout, Harris moved through
several picks to get lost in the crowd. He got free from Andre
Miller, then scooted toward the basket and found himself alone,
taking a pass from Josh Howard for the easy winning layup.

"Great pass from Josh. I didn't have to dribble," Harris said.
"I just turned to shoot it."

Greg Buckner's desperation heave at the buzzer fell way short
and the Nuggets, still struggling nearly halfway through the
season, finished a key homestand at 2-4.

It was hardly the way anyone would have expected this
hard-fought game to end, especially with the way Denver stayed
alive.

At the end of regulation, Carmelo Anthony made a 3-pointer at
the buzzer to tie it at 100. Then, with 3.6 seconds left in
overtime, Kenyon Martin tipped in Miller's intentionally missed
free throw to tie it again at 112.

"We just made a couple of plays, but not enough plays," said
Martin, who toughed it out after spending several long stretches on
the bench with an ice pack on his back.

Anthony (28 points) was so close to the line on his game-tying
3-pointer that referee Dick Bavetta had to go to the video to make
sure his foot wasn't touching the paint. After about 60 seconds,
Bavetta signaled the shot was worth 3 and the teams played on.

Dirk Nowitzki made a pair of clutch jumpers in the overtime to
keep the Mavericks ahead. Nowitzki and Jason Terry led the Mavs
with 27 points apiece.

Nowitzki's second big shot, a 16-footer after he got open off a
head fake, put the Mavs up 112-109 and put the Nuggets into
desperation mode with only 8.5 seconds left and no timeouts.

Miller got the ball and got fouled. He hit his first free throw,
then tried the 1-in-100 play, intentionally missing the free throw
and hoping for a tip-in. Martin did just that to tie it with 3.6
seconds left.

"I told all the guys not to go in too early," Martin said,
explaining his perfect timing on the play.

After a Dallas timeout, Nowitzki was banging around in traffic
and the Nuggets looked to be focusing on covering him on the
inbound play. That might explain how Harris (11 points) found
himself so wide open for the game-winner.

"You have to keep your composure down the stretch," Nowitzki
said. "Basketball is a game of mistakes. They made the mistake at
the end. A huge mistake."

Miller didn't deem the last play a breakdown.

"He went under the basket," Miller said. "I was thinking
otherwise. I was more helping than anything."

To Miller's credit, the Nuggets wouldn't have been close without
him.

Suffering with the flu, he was sensational in the fourth
quarter, twisting, turning and doing everything he could to keep
Denver in reach of the Mavs. He scored 12 of his 21 points in the
quarter and also finished with 11 assists.

Meanwhile, before Nowitzki took over the overtime, Terry was key
for the Mavericks.

He made a basket to trim Dallas' deficit to 105-104. Then, he
had an "assist" -- actually an airball -- that dropped into
Howard's hands for a layup to make it 106-105. Then, Terry made it
a three-point lead with a layup off a pass from Howard, who scooped
it up when Martin mishandled the ball.

"We had a lot of energy and converted and got a lot of good
stuff, but that is a tough way to lose a game," Karl said.

The Mavs improved to 24-9, well within striking range of San
Antonio (26-7) in the tough Southwest Division. The Nuggets,
meanwhile, failed again to gain ground in the weak Northwest,
falling to 16-18 and staying a game behind Minnesota.

Game notes
The Mavericks expect assistant coach Rolando Blackman to
rejoin the team when they return to Dallas. Blackman has been
suffering with pneumonia. ... The Nuggets fell to 0-4 this season
in overtime games.