Nuggets beat Mavs, 98-88

Reserve J.R. Smith scored 25 points, Carmelo Anthony added 23, and the Denver Nuggets beat the Dallas Mavericks 98-88 on Monday night to extend their winning streak to four games.

Chauncey Billups had 15 points and eight assists for the Nuggets, who have won seven of eight and improved to 16-4 since Billups joined the team after a Nov. 3 trade with the Detroit Pistons.

Dirk Nowitzki had 27 points and 10 rebounds, and Jason Terry scored 19 points for the Mavericks, who had won 11 of their previous 13.

Mavericks forward Josh Howard was back after being inactive for 11 straight games because of a sprained left ankle. He came off the bench late in the first quarter and played 14 minutes, scoring seven points.

Denver opened the fourth quarter with a 12-0 spurt, including eight from Smith, for an 87-71 advantage. The Mavericks never got closer than eight the rest of the way.

Nowitzki scored Dallas’ first 11 points of the third quarter, continuing his run of 16 straight points that started in the second quarter, to narrow Denver’s advantage to 61-54.

Nowitzki had 16 points in the third quarter, but Denver carried a 75-71 lead into the fourth.

The Nuggets grabbed a 27-15 first-quarter lead behind Anthony’s 12 points and the team’s 11-for-18 field goal accuracy. Dallas went 6-for-25 from the floor in the first quarter.

The Mavericks got within four, but the Nuggets closed with a 16-7 run for a 56-43 lead at the break.