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Gallinari, Nuggets spoil Nowitzki's return, 106-85

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 28, 2012 at 11:36 pm •  Published: December 28, 2012

DALLAS (AP) — Danilo Gallinari was the European big man hitting 3-pointers, and he spoiled Dirk Nowitzki's first home game for the Dallas Mavericks since coming back from knee surgery.

The Denver forward was 7 of 11 from long range and finished with a career-high 39 points as the Nuggets handed the Mavericks their fifth straight loss, 106-85, on Friday night.

"He was one of the best players in the game," Gallinari, a 6-foot-10 forward from Italy, said of the 7-foot Nowitzki from Germany. "So you always try to follow and learn from the best. I've watched a lot of videos from him."

Nowitzki, who missed the first 27 games after surgery late in the preseason, had five points in 17 minutes in his third game back. He made two of his first four shots after entering the game to a loud ovation midway through the first quarter. But he missed his last six shots and didn't play in the fourth quarter a night after an overtime loss at Oklahoma City.

"I was a step slow," Nowitzki said. "That was obvious. I had no lift in my jumper. Everything was in and out. That last little thing is still missing. Really, these are my first games in a long time. So it's ugly. I've got to keep fighting, keep working hard in practice days and eventually I'll be able to come back."

O.J. Mayo led Dallas with 15 points but was just 1 of 6 on 3-pointers. The Mavericks shot 38 percent and made just 5 of 25 from long range.

With the Nuggets up 50-47, Gallinari scored five points in the final 5 seconds of the first half, hitting a 3-pointer and scoring on a tip-in just before the buzzer after Denver knocked away a long inbound pass.

Gallinari, whose previous career high was 37 against the New York Knicks last January, opened the second half with a 3-pointer to put Denver up by 11, and Andre Iguodala followed with four from long range in the third quarter, including one after the Mavericks had pulled within five. Gallinari and Iguodala scored all 12 of Denver's points during a stretch that ended with the Nuggets up by 14 late in the third.

Iguodala finished with 20 and was 4-of-6 shooting from long range. Denver made 12 of 28 from behind the arc.

"When we make shots, I think we're pretty good," Denver coach George Karl said. "Iguodala made a couple of shots right at the end of the shot clock that were heartbreakers for them."

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