There are several reasons why getting a win in Denver last night would have been a big deal.
- The Lakers, Clippers, and Grizzlies had all lost so the Western Conference rankings were ready to climb
- The Mavericks had lost 2 very winnable games against the Suns & Kings
- This would be the 2nd time this season that the Mavericks would beat a #1 seed team in the west.
- This was the beginning of a 4-game Western Conference road trip.
Unfortunately, Tuesday night in Denver did not go according to plan for the Mavericks. The theme of this match-up could be described as “first one to play defense, wins”. At the end of 3 quarters the score was 95-105 with the Nuggets tentatively in the lead. I say tentatively because although the Mavericks had been outscored in every subsequent quarter the game was filled with streaky scoring on both sides. In fact, at the 3:55 mark in the 3rd the Mavericks had actually taken a 95-91 lead after a set of Luka Doncic free throws and a couple of 3-pointers.
The Nuggets started the fourth quarter slow but were able to maintain their lead and stave off late pushes from Doncic and Barnes. Nikola Jokic was dominant every time Deandre Jordan was off the court. Jordan owned the highest +/- rating for the Mavericks on the night with +18. Unfortunately, his replacement was most often Dwight Powell who had an off night and ended at a whopping -27. The Nuggets owned the boards all night on both offense and defense, +14 REB over the Mavs total but it felt like +30. The biggest difference was Jokic down low with 16 REBS, 6 of which were offensive and all but 1 led to second chance points. Jokic also had his second highest points total of the year with 32 to complete his double-double. 2016’s 7th overall pick, Jamal Murray added 22 PTS, 15 AST, 7 REB and looked unstoppable at times. Nuggets role players also performed well with both Trey Lyles and Monte Morris adding 16 PTS a piece, mostly through key 3-pointers.
As for the Mavericks, Harrison Barnes was your leading scorer with 30 PTS (I’m starting to think that when Barnes hits 30, the Mavericks lose). Luka teased us with yet another almost triple-double performance. Doncic had 23 PTS, a career-high 12 AST and 6 REB. Jordan added 11 PTS and 12 REB.
This loss dropped the Mavericks down to the 9th seed in the Western Conference and knocks them out of 1st in the Southwest Division. The Mavs will stay on the road for the next 3 games:
- @ LA Clippers Thurs, Dec 20
- @GS Warriors Sat, Dec 22
- @Port Trail Blazers Sun, Dec 23
Not exactly the way they wanted to start this stretch of the schedule I’m sure.