The Dallas Mavericks and Denver Nuggets were fairly satisfied with how things unfolded when fatigue affected their meeting to open a home-and-home series.
Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler and Rajon Rondo are expected to play in Friday night’s rematch in Dallas, with the Nuggets seeking a season-high sixth straight victory.
Coach Rick Carlisle opted to rest Nowitzki, Chandler and Rondo in a 114-107 loss at Denver in the second game of a back-to-back Wednesday. Chandler played a season-high 44 minutes and Nowitzki was on the court for nearly 38 1/2 – his third-most of 2014-15 – the night before in a 108-104 overtime win at Sacramento.
Rondo sat against the Nuggets due to lingering left Achilles soreness.
Carlisle didn’t sound too disappointed with a loss in which his team was down three with under two minutes left.
”I thought all things considered we did a lot of good things,” Carlisle said.
Top scorer Monta Ellis shot 1 of 11 and had five points for his second-lowest total. He sat out the fourth quarter after playing 40 minutes against the Kings.
”I should have rested Ellis. I should have just insisted that he didn’t play,” Carlisle said. ”He looked tired. He couldn’t get into the game. In the third quarter I just said, `Hey, enough.”’
Denver’s Ty Lawson finished with 29 points and 12 assists in over 44 minutes – his third-highest total. He was forced to shoulder the point guard load since backup Nate Robinson was traded Tuesday to Boston for Jameer Nelson.
”I knew I was going to play at least 40 unless Erick Green had a good night,” Lawson said. ”Probably got winded in the second quarter.”
Nelson will make his Nuggets debut Friday against the team with which he began the season. The veteran started 23 games for Dallas (27-13), including the first 15, before he was traded Dec. 18 to the Celtics in the deal that brought Rondo to the Mavericks.
One positive Wednesday for the Mavs was that Raymond Felton, Greg Smith and Richard Jefferson started, marking the first time for Felton and Smith. J.J. Barea scored a season-high 17 points as the Dallas bench finished with a season-best 62.
”All year our strength has been our depth,” said Jefferson, who scored a season-high 16. ”We had everyone on the bench score in double figures. The bench outscored the starters. We take pride in that."
Lawson is second in the NBA with 12.2 drives per game, though he was limited to nine Wednesday.
He’ll have a tougher assignment this time against Rondo, who averages 9.1 drives. Lawson is second in the NBA with 10.1 assists per game with Rondo third at 9.8.
Dallas, which averages 108.8 points and 33.0 drives to rank second in those categories, held a 42-17 edge in drives Wednesday with 10 by Barea and nine by Ellis.
Denver (18-20) enjoyed a 51-39 rebounding advantage. Kenneth Faried had 22 points and 14 rebounds.
Now Dallas will have Chandler, fourth in the league with 12.1 rebounds per game – 13.8 over his last four.
The Nuggets, who have taken six of the last eight meetings, are shooting 51.5 percent and averaging 109.8 points during their win streak.
Both teams excel on Fridays, with the Mavs going 5-1 and the Nuggets posting a 6-2 record.