The Dallas Mavericks have been a poor shooting team all season, but certainly didn't look that way against the Denver Nuggets.
Michael Finley scored 27 points and the Mavericks cashed in on their sharpest shooting night of the season for a 98-79 victory Friday night over the Nuggets.
"How about that?" said Dallas coach Don Nelson as he scanned the final stats which showed a 51.3 percent shooting average. "That (shooting well) shouldn't be uncommon, but it was been this year."
The Mavericks started the night with a team shooting percentage of 41.5, but Finley went 12-for-22 from the field and Erick Strickland came off the bench to convert 6-of-9 field goal attempts and add a season-high 17 points.
"We looked at ourselves and said we're a better shooting team than we've been showing," Strickland said.
Dallas had dropped five of its previous six, and the Mavericks saw Friday as an opportunity to take advantage of one of the few teams behind them in the Western Conference standings.
"We needed that win," Nelson said. "Our defense was real good tonight."
Hubert Davis and Gary Trent added 12 points each and Shawn Bradley had 10 for Dallas.
Antonio McDyess's 16 points and 14 rebounds paced the Nuggets, winless in 14 road games this season. Denver, which has lost five of its last six overall, is the only team in the league without a road victory this season.
Eric Williams added 14 points, Chauncey Billups had 13 and Danny Fortson 11 for Denver, which played without fire for most of the night.
"We just didn't play hard for whatever reason," Fortson said. "We didn't put out the effort."
The Mavericks led by as many as 16 in the second quarter before the Nuggets cut the deficit to 57-51 early in the third quarter.
But Dallas hit 3-pointers on three conseutive possessions one by Steve Nash and two straight by Davis to expand its advantage to 66-51.
"That was important, to come out in the second half and not give 'em life," Finley said. "We wanted to keep 'em down and snuff 'em out."
Strickland came off the bench to score seven consecutive points late in the third quarter and Finley had 10 points in the quarter to put Dallas in front 77-58 entering the final quarter.
Dallas shot 50 percent in the first half and was in front at halftime, 51-45. Notes: The Mavericks made eight of their first 11 field goal attempts. ... Bradley had all 10 points in the first quarter as the 7-6 center took advantage of Denver's small three-forward lineup. ... The last time the Nuggets were in Dallas on Feb. 25, they lost rookie forward Raef LaFrentz for the season due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. In the same game, Dallas forward Cedric Ceballos was lost for the season when he fractured both wrists.
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