DENVER (AP) In the midst of a rough stretch, the Dallas Mavericks were searching for a little more energy and athleticism.
So Justin Anderson got a rare start and Dwight Powell received his first one. The altered lineup provided just the needed boost.
Powell had 10 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter and Anderson added 11, helping the short-handed Mavericks halt a three-game skid with a 97-88 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Monday night.
''I felt, right now, we've got to make the point that anything other than your best effort and your best energy is unacceptable,'' Dallas coach Rick Carlisle explained. ''These two guys you know are going to go hard, unconditionally. They delivered tonight. We still need everybody, each game is critical. We're still alive, we're still fighting.''
No doubt about that.
Reserve J.J. Barea scored 18 points and had 11 assists as Dallas moved into a virtual tie with Houston for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. It was a much-needed win for the Mavericks in a month that hasn't been friendly to them. They're 4-10 and have gone from five games over .500 on March 1 to two games below (36-38).
The Mavericks had seven players score in double figures, including all of their starters. But it was a rough night from the floor for Dirk Nowitzki, who finished with 10 points on 4-of-17 shooting. He was feeling it on the second night of a back-to-back.
''The team rescued me today,'' Nowitzki said.
He appreciated the youthful energy of Anderson, a rookie, and Powell, who's in his second season.
''We were obviously not a team that's blessed with athleticism. So those two guys were great for us,'' Nowitzki said. ''They're active. They're young. They're quick.
''It was fun to watch. We need some more of that going down the stretch.''
Powell, who averages 6.1 points, scored eight straight for Dallas at a critical point in the final quarter. He picked up the slack with Chandler Parsons (right knee) and Deron Williams (abdominal strain) sidelined.
''To be able to contribute to the win, it means a lot to me,'' Powell said.
Will Barton had 23 points for the Nuggets, who finished with 21 turnovers. The Mavericks turned it over just three times.
''They had more regard for the ball than we did tonight,'' Barton said. ''Give them credit, they're fighting for a playoff spot. They know how hard they have to play.''
Asked if it was something Dallas was doing to cause so many miscues, Nuggets coach Michael Malone said, ''I give (Dallas) no credit at all. We beat ourselves. We made mistake after mistake.''
Leading 89-81, Barea sealed the victory by hitting a 3-pointer from the corner with 3:18 remaining. But it got a little dicey when the sure-handed Mavericks turned the ball over twice with around 3 minutes left. Until then, they had only turned the ball over once.
''We played some amazing basketball defensively,'' Mavericks guard Raymond Felton said. ''The way we took care of the ball tonight and the way we defended, we gave ourselves a good chance to fight for this (playoff) spot.''
Mavericks: Dallas wrapped up a four-game trip with a 1-3 mark. ... Dallas was outrebounded 44-34.
Nuggets: G Jameer Nelson (sprained left wrist) entered the game in the second quarter. It was his first appearance since Jan. 30. ... F Jusuf Nurkic was out with an illness a day after scoring a career-high 19 points in a loss at the Los Angeles Clippers. ... Kenneth Faried returned to the floor after missing the last four games with a sore back. He finished with nine points and 11 rebounds.
Even though they're in the thick of a playoff chase, the Mavericks are taking a cautious approach with Williams, who's also dealing with a sore groin.
''The hope is it's not serious,'' Carlisle said. ''We're going to have to see how it goes.''
Before the game, the Nuggets held a moment of silence to honor former general manager Vince Boryla, who died Sunday. He was 89.
Boryla pulled off a blockbuster deal with Portland in 1984 that brought Wayne Cooper, Fat Lever and Calvin Natt to town for Kiki Vandeweghe. Denver made it to the Western Conference finals that season and Boryla was named the NBA's Executive of the Year.
Mavericks: Host New York Knicks on Wednesday night.
Nuggets: At Memphis on Wednesday night.