DENVER (AP) – Corey Brewer scored 23 points and got a hand on Anthony Morrow’s last-second shot to preserve the Denver Nuggets’ 19th straight home win, 95-94 over the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night.
Andre Iguodala’s layup with 2.8 seconds put Denver ahead in a game that Dallas dominated.
The win was bittersweet, though. Denver’s dreams of a deep playoff run might have taken a huge hit when they lost forward Danilo Gallinari to what looked like serious knee injury in the second quarter.
Gallinari is scheduled for an MRI on Friday, but if his screams of pain and the blank looks of his teammates after he went down with 4:27 left in the first half are any indication, the Nuggets will head into the playoffs without him.
Gallinari’s left knee buckled inward as he drove to the basket for a layup late in the first half. He gave up the ball, grabbed his knee and hopped to the sideline, where he sat down, writhing in pain as Darren Collison scored at the other end for Dallas.
Gallinari was helped off the court by reserves Timofey Mozgov and Quincy Miller. After a few halting steps, he was seated in a wheelchair and taken to the locker room for evaluation.
The team didn’t have any immediate word on the extent of his injury, saying only that he was scheduled for medical tests Friday.
Gallinari, who had nine points before getting hurt, is the Nuggets’ second-leading scorer at 16.3 points per game. Their top scorer,Ty Lawson (16.7) is out indefinitely with a tear in his bruised right heel.
The Nuggets, who haven’t lost at home since Jan. 18 against Washington, entered the game third in the Western Conference in their quest for home-court advantage in the first round of the NBA playoffs, a task that will be a whole lot harder without Gallinari.
The Mavericks are in a tight race with the Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz for the eighth and final playoff spot, and they nearly came away with a signature win at the Pepsi Center, where the Nuggets improved to 34-3. Dallas was without big man Elton Brand because of a sore right calf that’s been bothering him for a week. Coach Rick Carlisle said
Brand’s injury flared up in the team’s loss to Indiana on March 28 and affected his play in subsequent games against the Bulls and Lakers, “so we’re going to sit him and try to get him right.”
The 13th-year pro is averaging 7.4 points and 6.1 rebounds.
With Brewer filling in, the Nuggets, coming off a big win at Utah the night before, rallied after Gallinari went down and the teams went to the locker room tied at 47 at halftime.
The Mavericks took a 77-70 led into the fourth quarter but the Nuggets chipped away.
They pulled to 80-79 on Evan Fornier’s three-point play with 8:59 left, but Wilson Chandler picked up his fifth foul, on the offensive end, and Denver blew several more chances to surge ahead.
Finally, Iguodala’s 3-pointer tied it at 86, but Andre Miller (22 points) botched an alley-oop pass to Iguodala for the go-ahead bucket and Chris Kaman scored at the other end for Dallas, which was led by Brandan Wright’s 16 points.
Miller’s jumper while getting fouled pulled Denver to 94-93 with 1:48 left, but after the timeout, he missed the free throw.
Dirk Nowitzki missed a turnaround jumper but blocked Iguodala’s layup attempt with 35.6 seconds left.
Nowitzki, however, turned the ball over and Kenneth Faried was fouled by Morrow with 9.8 seconds left. Faried missed both free throws, and Brewer grabbed the offensive rebound
After a timeout, Iguodala drove the paint from the right side and scored a left-handed layup to give Denver a 95-94 lead with 2.8 seconds left.
One more timeout. One more inbounds. One more chance for Brewer to come up big.
Sure enough, he got a hand on Morrow’s desperation shot at the buzzer that fell short.
NOTES: Denver is one win shy of matching its franchise record 20-game home winning streak, set in 1984-85. … The Nuggets’ first lead came on Gallinari’s jumper with 7:01 left in the first half. … This marked the Mavericks’ only visit to Denver this season. The teams play again in Dallas next week.
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