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NBA: Denver 104, Dallas 96

DALLAS, April 7 (UPI) -- J.R. Smith led the way with 23 points Wednesday and he Denver Nuggets held off Dallas 104-96 to hand the Mavericks their fourth straight loss.

Dallas came back from a 16-point deficit in the third period to tie the score with 2:50 to play but Denver closed the contest on a 10-2 run.

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The Mavericks saw their lead over Oklahoma City slip to one game in the battle for the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference. If Dallas falls into fourth place, it would likely take on Denver in the opening round of the playoffs.

Denver has defeated Dallas in each of their last three meetings. Kenyon Martin added 18 points for the Nuggets and Wilson Chandler had 16.

Shawn Marion paced the Mavericks with 21 points and 10 rebounds while Dirk Nowitzki contributed 20 points. Brendan Haywood had a season-best 19 rebounds for Dallas.

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