Mavs lose in Denver in closing seconds

Chauncey Billups made two free throws with 2.2 seconds left, and the Denver Nuggets overcame 44 points from Dirk Nowitzki to beat the Dallas Mavericks 99-97 on Tuesday night.

Billups scored 23 points and Nene had 20 to lead a balanced attack that helped Denver recover after blowing a 17-point lead.

Jason Terry had 16 points for the Mavericks, who have lost three straight.

Denver led by one when Terry drained a 3-pointer with 2:12 left to give Dallas a 93-91 lead, its first since early in the game, and Nowitzki extended it to four with two free throws.

Billups hit a jumper, Nene tied it with 51 seconds left, and Anthony Carter’s layup with 28 seconds remaining gave Denver a 97-95 lead. Nowitzki dunked to tie it with 19 seconds to play.

After a timeout, Billups drove to the lane and was fouled by Terry, putting the 90-percent foul shooter at the line.

The Mavericks trailed by six to start the fourth, and by as many as nine in the final period, before rallying to tie it at 86-all on a 17-foot jumper from Terry with 4:52 left. Billups answered with his second 3-pointer to give Denver the lead again.

The Nuggets took a 64-47 lead in the first minute of the second half but then went cold. After Billups’ 11-foot jumper gave Denver a 66-55 lead with 8:27 left, the Nuggets went 6:32 without a field goal.

The Mavericks tied it at 72 on a free throw by Jose Barea, but Dahntay Jones converted a three-point play with 1.1 seconds left and Chris Andersen stole Dallas’ inbounds pass and hit a halfcourt shot to give Denver a 78-72 lead heading into the fourth.

Nene led the Nuggets with 16 points in the first half, nine in the first quarter. Free throws by Billups and Nene and a 3-pointer by Carter pushed the lead to 60-47 at the break.

Billups, who had a season-high 30 against Detroit on Friday, made an impact early. He had eight points and three assists in the first quarter as the Nuggets took a 33-26 lead into the second.


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