DALLAS - Dirk Nowitzki had made jumper after jumper to carry the Dallas Mavericks from 19 points down midway through the third quarter to a slim lead with time running out. So when Carmelo Anthony drove past him to try and score the winning basket for the Denver Nuggets, Nowitzki did the only thing left to do — hope someone was there to help. DeSagana Diop was, swatting away Anthony’s layup attempt with 2.9 seconds left and preserving an 83-80 victory for the Mavericks on Tuesday. “I didn’t see (Diop). He came out of nowhere,” Nowitzki said. “He saved the game for us.” Nuggets coach George Karl was not happy a game had slipped away. “We celebrated a little too early,” Karl said. “We became happy in the third quarter.” Karl wasn’t pleased with Anthony taking such a tough shot. Anthony’s stance was that he was trying to either hit the basket or draw a foul. “He’s not going to get that call because he had three guys covering him,” Karl said. “On the road, you’re not going to get many friendly calls.” Anthony remembers Nowitzki and Diop being around him. “I don’t know what happened after that,” he said. “It could have went both ways. Bottom line, I missed the shot.” Diop set career highs with 16 rebounds and six blocks, while Nowitzki scored a season-high 35 points and Marquise Daniels added a season-high 17. No other Mavericks were in double figures, part of the reason they needed the big rally. Nowitzki scored 17 points after the Nuggets’ lead peaked at 64-45 midway through the third quarter. He had seven straight early in the fourth, putting Dallas ahead on a 3-pointer and stretching the lead to five with a breakaway layup soon after. The Mavericks never trailed again, but the Nuggets had plenty of chances. They missed their final seven shots, including Anthony’s failed drive and a long 3-pointer by DerMarr Johnson at the buzzer that was partially blocked by Dallas’ Devin Harris, in falling to 0-4 on the road this season. Diop was in the right place at the right time because he was counting on Anthony going to the basket. “I knew he was not going to pass it,” Diop said. “When he gets that far under, he’s going to shoot every time.” Anthony scored 24 points and Andre Miller added 17. Marcus Camby had 11 points and nine rebounds. Kenyon Martin returned to the lineup after missing the previous game to rest his sore left knee, but lasted only eight minutes. The Dallas native had three rebounds and two points, going 1-for-4 with a putback dunk attempt among his misses. NEXT Denver (3-5) at New Orleans (2-4, Okla. City), 6 p.m. today, Adelphia 32, 1300 AM
Colorado Springs Gazette has disabled the comments for this article.