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DALLAS – Monta Ellis scored 26 points, Dirk Nowitzki added 21 and the Dallas Mavericks pulled away from the Denver Nuggets in the fourth quarter of a 122-106 victory Friday night.
The Mavericks avoided a season sweep by the Nuggets, who ran away with a win in Denver two weeks ago to hand Dallas its longest losing streak at three games.
Dallas (42-28) got a boost in the playoff race when Miami rallied from seven down in the last 3½ minutes to beat Memphis 91-86 Friday night. The Mavericks and Grizzlies (40-28) started the day in a virtual tie for the final two postseason spots in the Western Conference.
Vince Carter shook off a dislocated pinkie on his left hand in the first quarter to finish with 13.
J.J. Hickson led Denver with 18 points and eight rebounds before leaving with an apparent injury in the fourth quarter.
Ty Lawson had 17 points and nine assists after missing a game with a sinus infection, and Randy Foye scored 15, all on 3-pointers.
The Mavericks led by 15 early in the fourth quarter but couldn't put the Nuggets away until late.
Denver was within 99-96 after a 3-pointer and dunk from Dallas native Darrell Arthur, who had nine of his 11 points in the second half.
But Nowitzki hit back-to-back fadeaway jumpers and Brandan Wright and Shawn Marion took turns feeding each other for baskets, the last one Marion's dunk for a 109-99 lead with 4 minutes to go.
Wright, a 6-foot-10 center, had all three of his assists in a 4-minute stretch of the fourth quarter and finished with 13 points. Marion scored 14 as the Mavericks had seven players in double figures.
Ellis, who scored 12 straight Dallas points to force overtime in a loss to Minnesota on Wednesday, ran off eight straight to put the Nuggets away and clinch a winning season after a 12-year run of winning records ended with a 41-41 mark last season.
Ellis was 11-of-14 shooting and had seven assists.
Hickson helped keep Denver close with 10 second-half points and was four shy of his season high against the Mavericks in November before going out.
The Mavericks avoided the slow starts that plagued them the last time they played Denver and in an overtime loss to Minnesota, another West also-ran, in their last game.
Jae Crowder really got Dallas going in the second quarter, going 4 of 4 from 3-point range, including three straight Dallas baskets that put the Mavericks up 50-36.
Averaging 4.7 points per game coming in, Crowder led Dallas in the first half with 12 points but didn't attempt another shot.
NOTES: The teams combined to go 25 of 52 from 3-point range. The Nuggets had 13 from long range and the Mavericks had 12. The season high is 12 for both teams. ... Nuggets C Kenneth Faried got a technical in the third quarter after colliding with Jose Calderon and knocking the Dallas guard to the floor. ... The Nuggets swept the season series with Dallas in 2008-09 and won four straight over the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons. ... The Mavericks recalled G Gal Mekel from the Texas Legends of the D-League. He's played 31 games for Dallas and four games for the affiliate. The 26-year-old rookie from Israel missed nearly two months with a knee injury.