Nowitzki, Mavs split home-and-home with Nuggets

Denver Nuggets guard Jameer Nelson passes around Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki during the game at American Airlines Center. 

Kevin Jairaj/Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

It sure appeared a night of rest did Dirk Nowitzki some good when he scored the first 10 Dallas points without missing a shot.

The 36-year-old forward didn’t quite maintain that pace in his return to the lineup, but the early cushion was enough to keep the Mavericks ahead throughout in a quick rematch with Denver.

Nowitzki scored 25 points two days after sitting in the Mile High City, and the Mavericks split a home-and-home set against the Nuggets with a 97-89 victory Friday night.

"He looked good," said Chandler Parsons, whose 18 points included a thunderous dunk over J.J. Hickson. "He still got a little gassed out there. Obviously, I think not playing and resting and just getting some cardio in was beneficial for him."

Tyson Chandler and Rajon Rondo were the other two Dallas starters who sat out the second night of a back-to-back on Wednesday, and their return helped as well.

Chandler, who has been nursing a sore ankle, had his 17th double-double with 11 points and 16 rebounds.

Rondo, slowed by a mild Achilles issue, scored just two points but had eight assists and nine rebounds while helping hold Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson to 11 points after he scored 29 in the Denver win on Wednesday.

"The starting five was back together, and the good start kind of carried us through," said Nowitzki, who was 8 of 18 from the field, including 4 of 5 from 3-point range, with nine rebounds.

Arron Afflalo scored 16 to lead the Nuggets, who had to withstand a rally to beat the travel-weary and short-handed Mavericks at home after four nights off. Denver’s five-game winning streak, tied for a season high, ended in the first of four games in five nights.

The Nuggets were outscored 10-2 to start the game and 11-2 coming out of halftime but stayed close throughout. Denver never led, though, and couldn’t get closer than a six-point deficit to start the fourth quarter.

Free throws were partially to blame, with the Nuggets making just 12 of 25.

"The ball wasn’t going in the rim either from the free throw or from the field," Lawson said after the Nuggets shot 37 percent in the first half and 41 percent for the game. "We got the shots we wanted. Nobody was forcing shots or anything. They just didn’t fall."