These postgame shindigs had become so nuts-and-bolts, it took until the end for anyone to remember to step back and take a look at the entire forest. The Nuggets had won. There were reasons for that, of course. Many of them.

But the Nuggets had won on Wednesday night, after losing six straight. After not winning at home since Feb. 5. That, in and of itself, no matter how it was accomplished, was a relief.

Nuggets 115, Mavericks 110.

The Pepsi Center crowd could finally exhale.

Finally.

"It's been a long time," a relieved Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said. "It feels good. Especially here, where we've let down our crowd so many times. It just goes to show that when we have the healthy bodies and we play the way we're capable of playing, we can play with anybody."

The Mavericks entered the game occupying the seventh spot in the Western Conference playoff race. They exited the game with their third loss in three games against the Nuggets this season.

"We can beat anybody in this league," Nuggets forward J.J. Hickson said. "We have some great wins, even though our record is not that good. The games that we have won are against teams that are in the playoff race and above .500. We have to stop playing to the level of our competition, just know that it's about us and nobody else and go out and play every game like it's our last."

In getting the long-awaited and much-needed victory, the Nuggets looked wholly different from the team that took the court in its previous six games. They avoided burying themselves with a sluggish first quarter. They hustled on defense. They executed with precision on offense. They avoided turning the ball over repeatedly.

Almost anything good basketball teams do, the Nuggets did.

They survived a cold-shooting third quarter and held on down the stretch in the fourth.