Rapid React: Mavs 102, Nuggets 101

How it happened: Dirk Nowitzki had a dominant performance against Denver’s depleted frontcourt, but the Mavs still needed a break at the buzzer. Carmelo Anthony’s midrange jumper rimmed in and out as time expired.

Nowitzki, who was guarded by some guy named Gary Forbes to open the game with Kenyon Martin, Chris Andersen and Nene sidelined by injuries, lit up the Nuggets for 35 points and 12 rebounds. He had 20 by halftime and added another 13 in the fourth quarter.

Jason Terry got hot in the third quarter, hitting four 3-pointers and scoring 16 of his 20 points.

The Mavs’ offensive efficiency – 46.4 percent shooting, 46.7 from 3-point range and 89.5 percent from the line – allowed them to overcome their worst defensive performance of the season. The Nuggets shot 46.1 percent from the floor despite an off night from Anthony (20 points, 8-19 FG).

What it means: No matter how many Nuggets were out, this was a big road win against a Western Conference playoff contender. It’s a continuation of the Mavs’ trend of finding ways to win away from home. They are 2-0 on the road after having the NBA’s best road record (28-13) last season. Next, the 3-1 Mavs need to win Saturday’s rematch at the American Airlines Center.

Play of the game: Caron Butler hit a contested 3-pointer with 1:59 remaining to give the Mavs the lead for good. Nowitzki, who scored 13 of the Mavs’ previous 15 points, dished to Butler on the left wing after a spin move in the lane. Butler hadn’t scored since the third quarter, but he confidently knocked down the shot with the defender closing and the shot clock ticking down.

Stat of the night: Nowitzki scored at least 30 points for the seventh time in the Mavs’ last 11 meetings with Denver, including the playoffs.