DALLAS -- Whatever the Denver Nuggets did at halftime Saturday night, they will never want to repeat it.
After shooting better than 50 percent from the field in the first half and taking a 52-48 lead over the Dallas Mavericks into halftime, the Nuggets couldn't buy a bucket in the third quarter. They went scoreless in the first 8:55 of the quarter and finished with just two field goals and five points.
It turned a promising start into a sixth consecutive loss as Dallas used the 25-5 quarter to flip the game in their favor for a 92-81 victory at American Airlines Center.
The Mavs needed the win almost as much as the Nuggets. They snapped a three-game losing streak, all on a recent road trip, and were making this one-game pit stop at home before heading out again for a back-to-back starting Monday at Sacramento.
"It was big for us, especially to win at home," Mavs guard Raymond Felton said. "We've been traveling a lot -- that's how the schedule is, that's how it goes sometimes -- so to get this win at home was really big for us, behind those three losses on the road. We're back on the road tomorrow with tough teams."
Denver's five points set a Dallas franchise record for the lowest total in a quarter by an opponent. The Nuggets, outscored 16-0 in the opening eight minutes while going 0 of 15 from the floor, ended the quarter 2 of 19 shooting, including 1 of 8 from beyond the arc, with nine turnovers.
"We play great in stretches. We went three quarters tonight, but that third quarter was decisive -- 25-5," Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. "Turnovers -- you can't go on the road and beat yourself. We talked about that at halftime. We had 10 turnovers at the half. We wound up having 22 turnovers for 19 points, and nine of those were in the third quarter.
So when you are struggling to score, you cannot beat yourself by turning the ball over that many times."
The Nuggets' 81 points was a low by a Mavs opponent this season.
"I'm trying to figure that out to be honest with you," Nuggets rookie guard Emmanuel Mudiay said when asked how the team could have changed their fortunes in the third quarter. "We all hate losing and we have to figure out what it is. Honestly, I can't give you a direct answer right now. We have to get stops and we came out too flat. That back-to-back is not an excuse and we should have won this one."
Dallas point guard Deron Williams hit four 3-pointers and led all scorers with 22 points, his second-highest scoring game of the season. Center ZaZa Pachulia had 16 points and 12 rebounds, and forward Dirk Nowitzki finished with 13 points and seven rebounds. Guard Raymond Felton contributed 12 off the bench.
Forward Darrell Arthur paced Denver (6-11) with 16 points. Guard Will Barton had 14 points off the bench and Danilo Gallinari, who typically has big games against the Mavs, finished with 12 points on 4-of-12 shooting from the floor and 2 of 6 from 3-point range.
Second-chance points and a quicker lineup awakened the Nuggets early into the fourth quarter, slicing Dallas' lead to 83-72 with 7:21 to go. But the cold-shooting Nuggets came no closer.
Dallas (10-7) had two days off and Denver was coming off a loss the night before at San Antonio. Yet the Nuggets got off to the faster start to lead nearly all of the first half while shooting 52.6 percent from the floor, including 4 of 8 from beyond the arc.
"Hopefully, we can get better and do a better job starting the game," Pachulia said. "I don't know if it's the warmup, I don't know what it is. But we will find out, I'm sure, and we'll do better."
They did, once the second half arrived.
NOTES: Mavericks G J.J. Barea will miss at least three games with a sprained right ankle suffered in the second half of Wednesday's loss at San Antonio. Barea has been a significant part of Dallas' bench, averaging 8.6 points and 4.1 assists in 19.8 minutes. ... The Mavs are working to get F Dirk Nowitzki more shots. He leads the team in scoring (17.4 ppg) and leads the league in 3-point shooting (51 percent), but he has 13 or fewer shot attempts in 10 of 17 games. Nowitzki needs three field goals to become the 13th player in NBA history with at least 10,000 career field goals. ... Dallas returned home for one game after an 0-3 road trip. They go back on the road for a back-to-back at Sacramento on Monday and at Portland on Tuesday. ... Mavs G Wesley Matthews missed shootaround with an illness, but played 28 minutes against Denver. ... Denver was playing the tail end of its fourth back-to-back of the season. It is now 0-4 in the second leg of back-to-back games. ... Nuggets G Gary Harris missed Saturday's game with concussion-like symptoms. G Randy Foye started in his place. ... F Kenneth Faried (left ankle sprain) was back on the active roster but was not in the starting lineup. ... Two of Denver's starters, F Darrell Arthur and rookie G Emmanuel Mudiay, attended high school in Dallas.