Nuggets seek back-to-back wins for second time this season (Dec 12, 2016)

BY AP • December 11, 2016

DALLAS -- When the Denver Nuggets visit the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night, they will try do something they've done just once this season -- win two games in a row.

That came nearly four weeks ago. Since the Nuggets' longest win streak of the season -- if streak even applies for just two consecutive wins -- they've gone 3-7.

But after Saturday's 121-113 win at Orlando, Denver (9-15) is looking at the prospect of going on a mini-hot streak with this game against Dallas followed by a three-game homestand against the Portland Trail Blazers, New York Knicks and the Mavs again.

Denver also comes to Dallas (5-18) with point guard Emmanuel Mudiay having returned to the lineup on Saturday at Orlando. He played 22 minutes after missing one game with a right ankle sprain.

If the Nuggets took away a lesson from their win at Orlando, it might be how to remain calm in the fourth quarter and not let adversity get the best of them. Denver has been a poor fourth-quarter team this season, but this time managed to withstand a charge and hold on.

"I think the key to the game was -- yes, we lost the lead -- we didn't lose our heads," Nuggets coach Mike Malone told reporters after the game. "We were poised, we were composed and we executed and got stops. The fact of the matter is if you want to win games on the road, that's what you need to do."

Denver can also take a lesson from several teams that recently came to Dallas believing they could continue momentum against a struggling team. But the Chicago Bulls got blown out the night after beating Cleveland, and the Indiana Pacers were left flat-footed in the second half of a loss at Dallas on Friday night.

Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari turned in one of his best games of the season with 21 points, including going 2 of 3 from beyond the arc and getting to the free throw line 10 times for nine points.

"That's what I need to do every game," Gallinari said. "The more I'm aggressive, the more I can make things happen for everybody else."

The Mavs are coming off a shellacking at Houston on Saturday and are 2-5 in their last seven games with five losses coming by an average margin of 15.6 points. They got off to another slow start against James Harden and the Rockets and could never recover.

"You know, it's real tough when you have a night like (Friday) night and you put things together and you can propel," Barnes told reporters after the 109-87 loss at Houston. "And then 24 hours later, it's another slow start. For three quarters, we played decent basketball. But when you start off that way, it's hard to get one."

Dallas has had issues with slow starts all season. The Mavs gave up 36 points in the first quarter at Houston, forcing them to play from behind throughout.

"It's tough giving up 36 points," Matthews told reporters after the game. "We fought, we fought back, but we just couldn't get over the hump."

Dallas will again be without starters forward Dirk Nowitzki (right Achilles strain) and center Andrew Bogut (right knee), plus reserve guard J.J. Barea (left calf strain).

Dallas is getting the bulk of its offense from shooting guard Wesley Matthews and forward Harrison Barnes. Matthews has made at least four 3-pointers in each of the last eight games, including 25 in the last five games, and Barnes leads the team in scoring at 20.6 points per game.

The Mavs are desperate to get wins at home with seven of their next 11 games coming on the road.