He played one minute against the Mavs, going scoreless, although he had planned to play about five minutes. The Nuggets won 118-105 and stay a half-game behind Golden State for the eighth and final playoff spot, and one game behind the Mavericks. The Warriors visit the Pepsi Center on Saturday night for another big matchup.
He was given a rousing standing ovation as teammate Kenyon Martin embraced him in a bear hug.
"It's not about how he plays," coach George Karl said an hour before tip-off. "We're just happy he's back and we're going to celebrate his health, we're going to celebrate his coming off of major cancer surgery, and we're just going to celebrate. This has nothing to do with basketball. We're just happy he's with us."
Nene participated in a full scrimmage Wednesday and in the team's shootaround Thursday. Before that, he had been limited to shooting, light running and 1-on-1 drills.
Nene underwent a single dose of chemotherapy last month. He averaged 6.4 points and 6.4 rebounds before his illness.
The Brazilian player took an indefinite leave of absence from the team on Jan. 11.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.