DALLAS – Danilo Gallinari scored a career-high 39 points and the Denver Nuggets spoiled Dirk Nowitzki's first home game since returning from knee surgery by beating the Dallas Mavericks 106-85 on Friday night.
Nowitzki had five points in 17 minutes in his third game back, and the Mavericks lost their fifth straight for the first time since January 2011.
Gallinari scored five points in the last 5.3 seconds before halftime and opened the second half with a 3-pointer to put the Nuggets up by 11. Andre Iguodala hit four 3-pointers in a 32-point third quarter and finished with 20 points.
O.J. Mayo led Dallas with 15 points.
Nowitzki, who missed the first 27 games after knee surgery late in the preseason, entered the game to a loud ovation midway through the first quarter and made two of his first four shots. But he missed his last six and didn't score after the first quarter.
The Nuggets led 50-47 in the final seconds of the first half when Gallinari hit a 3-pointer and got a tip-in just before the buzzer after Vince Carter's long inbound pass was knocked away near midcourt.
Gallinari's 3-pointer started the third quarter, but Iguodala took over from there. He hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put the Nuggets up 13 and dropped in another after the Mavericks had pulled within five. Gallinari and Iguodala scored 12 straight points to help the Nuggets rebuild the lead to 14.
Kenneth Faried outrebounded the Mavericks by himself in the first quarter and finished with 19 rebounds and 11 points, his seventh double-double in the past 10 games.
Mayo broke out of a four-game slump to keep Dallas close before halftime. He had 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting before halftime after matching his season low with four points and missing two of three free throws with a chance to tie the score in an overtime loss at Oklahoma City a night earlier.
Gallinari capped a 15-2 run in the first quarter with a 3-pointer and two free throws to give the Nuggets a 21-8 lead. The Mavericks, who fell to 3-10 against teams with winning records, answered with a 10-0 run in the second quarter and got as close as 40-38 on a 3-pointer by Carter.
NOTES: The Mavericks were given a technical foul when coach Rick Carlisle called a timeout with 3:02 remaining when he didn't have any timeouts left. ... Mavericks G Darren Collison fell three points shy of his career high with 32 in Thursday's 111-105 overtime loss at Oklahoma City. He had his career high at Dallas in February 2010. ... The Nuggets had double-digit 3-pointers for the second straight game after going the first 29 without one. They were 8-0 last year when they had 10 or more 3s. ... Nuggets G Ty Lawson had 14 assists and no turnovers against the Lakers, the first Denver player to do that since Nick Van Exel against the Mavericks almost 11 years ago.