DALLAS -- Monta Ellis scored 26 points and handed out seven assists Friday night and the Dallas Mavericks finally beat the Denver Nuggets this season, winning 122-106 at American Airlines Center.
Coupled with Miami's 91-86 win over Memphis, the Mavs (42-28) are now in sole possession of the Western Conference's No. 7 playoff spot. The Nuggets, who won the first three games this season against Dallas, dropped to 31-38.
The Mavs were only leading 101-97 with 5:50 left after Denver's Ty Lawson split a pair of free throws. But Ellis, who hit back-to-back 3-pointers down the stretch, suddenly caught fire and ended the game on a 21-9 run.
Overall, the Mavs shot 53.9 percent from the field and had seven players score at least 10 points.
Other than Ellis, the Mavs got 21 points and six rebounds from Dirk Nowitzki, 14 points and seven rebounds from Shawn Marion, and 13 points apiece from Vince Carter and Brandan Wright. Also, Jae Crowder bruied four three-pointers in the second quarter and finished with 12 points, and Jose Calderon added 10 points.
J. J. Hickson led Denver with 18 points and Ty Lawson scored 17.
Dallas trailed 29-26 after the first period, but kicked into overdrive in the second period when it scored 35 points and assumed a 61-53 lead at the half.
-- Dwain Price
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