Image Credit: @nuggets Twitter
On Monday, the Dallas Mavericks played the Denver Nuggets at the American Airlines Center in their final game of their two game home stand. The Mavericks are only 1.5 game behind the fourth seed in a tight western conference. The Mavericks beat the Nuggets earlier this season and will look to do it again.
On Saturday, the Mavericks played the Houston Rockets on a two game winning streak hoping to extend it. Unfortunately they ran into DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Gordon whom they both tortured the Mavericks by scoring 61 points combined. The Mavericks played this game without Kristaps Porzingis as they sat him on the back end of a back-to-back and they faced the consequences as their offense was nowhere to be found. The Rockets never trailed in this game as they led 70-59 after the first half which was the highest scoring half against the Mavericks this season. The Mavericks were able to pull with three in the third quarter before the Rockets decided that was enough and go on a 30-12 run to end the quarter. Luka Doncic scored 26 points before sitting out the entire fourth quarter as the game got out of reach. The Rockets were able to cruise to a 133-108 victory to end the Mavericks winning streak.
The Denver Nuggets are coming into this game on a roll as they were able to go on a three game winning streak to extend their record to 9-7 on the season. They are recently coming off a 120-112 double overtime victory on the road against the Phoenix Suns that saw Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic score a combined 55 points. The Nuggets currently stand as the 5th seed in the crowded western conference in hopes of making another deep playoff run. They are relying on Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray to make it happen as they both play critical roles on the team. Both of them have gotten off to a good start on the season as they are averaging 45.3 points per game combined. The Nuggets are averaging 116.8 points per game as a team which is good enough for fourth in the NBA. The Nuggets will look to avenge their loss to the Mavericks earlier this season as they will try to extend their winning streak.
Entering this game, the Mavericks beat the Nuggets in the first meeting 124-117 in overtime that saw Maxi Kleber drain a clutch three pointer in overtime to seal the victory. The Mavericks took the regular season series last season by going 2-1 as they look to do it again this season. The home team has won 20 of the last 28 meetings which included the Nuggets taking seven of the previous 10 games. If you recall, it was the Mavericks final home game with fans due to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 11th, 2020 as they beat the Nuggets 113-97 which was dubbed “The Boban Game”. Overall, the Mavericks lead the all-time series with a record of 91-86.
The Mavericks started this game still without key players as they are getting closer to returning back to the court. Both teams would exchange hitting three pointers as they get a feel of how this game would go. Coming off a Kristaps Porzingis block on defense, they would able to capitalize by finding Luka Doncic for a “And 1” opportunity and finished it by hitting the free-throw to give the Mavericks the early lead in the first quarter. The Nuggets would be able to get baskets on back-to-back possessions in hopes of getting things going in the quarter. Jamal Murray would get his first points of the game by driving for a wide open layup as he is a threat to score on any given chance he has the ball. Rick Carlisle would call a full timeout with 7:37 left in the quarter as the Mavericks fail to get stops on defense which allowed the Nuggets to go on a 11-2 run to lead 14-8. The Mavericks started the quarter cold as they only hit two field goals on eight attempts which is not a result you want to get to the finish line with a win. Coming off the timeout, the Nuggets continued to get hot as Jamal Murray hit a 26-foot three pointer but Kristaps Porzingis was there to finally end the Nuggets run. The Mavericks continue to get to the free-throw line which is a good sign as they struggle to put the ball in the hoop. They would covert on all of their free-throws so far by hitting 7 of 7 as they could use any points they can get. After trailing by as much as nine points in the quarter, Tim Hardaway Jr would get the Mavericks to within two points as he drove to the basket for a layup. The Nuggets would call timeout with 5:21 left in the quarter as they saw the Mavericks creeping in on them which resulted in a 9-2 run. Coming out of the timeout, the Nuggets would remain in control of the game by converting on four straight possessions for 9 points. As a result of the Nuggets pouring it on, the Mavericks would call another timeout with 3:32 left that saw them trailing 28-21. In the final minutes of the quarter, the Nuggets would remain in front as they would take a 38-31 lead. Jamal Murray was absolute fire in the first quarter for the Nuggets as he hit five of his six shots for 11 points. Luka Doncic would lead the game in scoring with 14 points, eight of those came at the free-throw line. The only positive for the Mavericks in the quarter was converting on their free-throws by being a perfect 10 of 10 at the line.
The Nuggets continued to shoot the basketball well as they covert on two of their first four possessions to begin the second quarter. The Mavericks are trying to climb their way back into this game by getting good looks as Jalen Brunson hit a two point shot to make it a six point game in the early stages of the quarter. The Nuggets called a timeout with 8:15 left in the quarter as they had trouble protecting the basketball which resulted in the Mavericks coming back but they would still lead 46-40. Coming out of the timeout, Michael Porter Jr would hit a catch-and-shoot three pointer as they continue to shoot well from behind the arc to extend the lead to nine points. In search of some points, Wes Iwundu would drive to the basket for an easy slam dunk to try to get the Mavericks going on offense. Midway through the quarter, both teams would exchange baskets as that’s not what the Mavericks wanted, if they want to try to cut into this Nuggets lead. That would not help at all, as the Nuggets were able to get the Mavericks to struggle shooting the ball which would result in a 5-2 Nuggets run. Rick Carlisle would call a timeout with 4:23 left in the quarter in hopes of trying to get something going on offense as they were trailing 59-46. Coming out of the timeout, a bad turnover by Luka Doncic would not help the Mavericks cause, fortunately enough it would not hurt them as the Nuggets couldn’t capitalize. The Mavericks desperately would need to generate some stops on defense and hope that their shooting comes alive on offense if they want to make it a game. A Luka Doncic two-foot shot would help but unfortunately the Nuggets would answer on the other end as they continue to trade points. By the way the Mavericks were playing, it looked like the Nuggets should be up by more than 11 points as the Mavericks struggled shooting the ball. In the final minutes of the quarter, the Nuggets would remain in the lead as the score ended 70-58 in favor of the Nuggets. The Mavericks defense would collapse like the big bad wolf blowing off the pig’s house as the Nuggets shot 54.5% from the field on 24 of 44 shooting in the first half. The Mavericks couldn’t get their three ball going as they only managed to make three on nine attempts in the second quarter. Luka Doncic would lead the game in scoring with 21 points but that won’t matter if it doesn’t end in a win. The Nuggets had four players score 10 points or more while the Mavericks had only Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson in the first half. The Mavericks will once again rely on the shooting of Luka Doncic to try to overcome this deficit and finish with a win in the second half.
Coming out of the half, the Mavericks were able to get some help by having Paul Millsap miss both of his free-throws as the Mavericks were able to capitalize that with a Kristaps Porzingis 15-foot jump shot to begin the third quarter. The Mavericks would remain in the attack by converting on three straight possessions to trim the Nuggets lead to 74-67 with 9:30 left in the quarter that would result in the Nuggets calling a timeout. This the type of start the could’ve used to begin the game but as the famous saying goes it’s “better late than never”. Still the Mavericks would need much more as they still found themselves down by nine points which is good news for the Nuggets. Coming out of the timeout, Nikola Jokic was able to hit a skyhook shot to regain their momentum in this game. The Mavericks defense would come alive as they were able to force back-to-back 24 second violations on the Nuggets but they couldn’t convert those into points on offense. As soon as Mavericks started to get things going for them , the Nuggets were there to fix their offensive struggles by getting some points to increase their lead back to nine points. Rick Carlisle would call a timeout to try to cool off the Nuggets 4-2 run as they answered the Mavericks threat with 5:58 left in the quarter. Coming out of the timeout, the officials would review an offensive call for a possible flagrant foul on Jamal Murray as he hit Tim Hardaway Jr in a place you don’t want to be hit. This could be a game changer as the Nuggets would need Jamal Murray on the court. After the review, the officials would upgrade the foul to a flagrant 2 foul which resulted in Jamal Murray being ejected in the third quarter with 4:51 left. Tim Hardaway Jr would convert on both of the flagrant free-throws to cut the Nuggets lead to 80-75 lead. Tim Hardaway Jr would tie the game for the Mavericks as he would convert on back-to-back possessions to give him a 7-0 personal run. The game is now wide open as the Nuggets would lose their star Jamal Murray on a low blow to Tim Hardaway Jr in a crucial part of the game. The Mavericks decided to use that to take a 82-80 lead but not before the Nuggets answered right back to tie the game at 82-82. Tim Hardaway Jr continued his hot stretch as he would hit a 26-foot three point jumper to regain the Mavericks lead at 85-82. In the final minutes of the quarter, the Mavericks suddenly found themselves in front as they end the quarter leading the Nuggets 94-92. The Mavericks were able to found some momentum following the Jamal Murray ejection and used that to take the lead. The Mavericks were able to use a Tim Hardaway Jr personal run to their advantage which resulted in them seeing the lead for the first time this game.
The Mavericks saw their lead quickly evaporate as the Nuggets made two for their first three shots to take a 97-94 lead to begin the fourth quarter. All the Mavericks need to do is continue to put pressure on these Nuggets that was without Jamal Murray but it’s easier said then done. Remember these Mavericks have struggled finishing games this season which have costed them wins. The Nuggets kept their foot on the gas even without Jamal Murray as they would use the free-throw line to their advantage to keep their lead intact. James Johnson would hit a corner three point jumper for the Mavericks to come within two points. On defense, an absolute chaos ensured as the ball was loose on the floor as the Mavericks couldn’t get the steal that would result in a Tim Hardaway Jr foul but fortunately not points for the Nuggets. This is turning out to be a nail bitter but Michael Porter Jr would hit a 25-foot three point shot to give the Nuggets a 102-97 lead with 7:26 left that would result in Rick Carlisle calling a timeout. The Mavericks could use one last boost that would hopefully result in them finishing with a win. Coming out of the timeout, Luka Doncic couldn’t hit a floater to draw within three points but fortunately James Johnson hit a three pointer on the following possession to draw within two. Just like how this game has been going, the Nuggets were there to answer by JaMychal Green making a layup to keep the Nuggets in front. The Mavericks once again were able to tie game at 104-104 by having James Johnson making an easy 1-foot shot that resulted in the Nuggets calling timeout with 4:58 left in the game. The game is right there if the Mavericks want it, they just have to play good basketball the reminder of the game and they will be rewarded with a victory. Coming out of the Nuggets timeout, they couldn’t take the lead as the Mavericks defense was there to force an ugly possession for the Nuggets. Luka Doncic was able to hit a pull-up jump shot to give the Mavericks a 106-104 lead but was answered by Michael Porter Jr hitting a three to take the lead right back from the Mavericks. With the Nuggets gaining momentum, Rick Carlisle was forced to call timeout with 2:49 left as the Nuggets were able to take a 109-106 lead. Coming out of the timeout, the Mavericks couldn’t get points on offense in return the Nuggets took advantage as Nikola Jokic made a finger roll layup to give them a 7-2 run. In the final minutes of the game, the Mavericks couldn’t stop the Nuggets which turned out to be the deciding factor in the game.
This team looked out matched in the first half as the Nuggets were able to find good looks on offense. The Mavericks rebounding was a problem as they were out-rebounded by a margin of 28-14 in the first half. The Mavericks were trading baskets with the Nuggets but that wouldn’t help as they were already trailing at that moment. Jamal Murray was on fire as he was able to capitalize on the Mavericks poor defense that was nowhere to be found. The Mavericks offense was streaky but that wouldn’t matter as they couldn’t get a single stop on defense. Fortunately for the Mavericks this is a four quarter game not two as they looked like a completely different team in the second half as a result of Jamal Murray being ejected in the game. The Mavericks used that to their advantage as they were able to take the lead in the game and the momentum. However, the Nuggets were able to adjust and able to finish the game strong. The Mavericks had a chance to get the victory but couldn’t create some stops on defense in the final moments in the game that costed them a victory.
In the end, it was the Denver Nuggets defeating the Dallas Mavericks 117-113 in a close one. The Mavericks record would drop to 8-9 on the season. As a result of the loss, they are once again on a two game losing streak and below .500. Luka Doncic finished with 35 points, 11 rebounds with a season-high 16 assists as he recorded his sixth triple-double of the season. Michael Porter Jr filled in for Jamal Murray as he was tremendously huge for the Nuggets and was able to give them 30 points off the bench to keep their winning streak alive. Tim Hardaway Jr and Kristaps Porzingis were able to help Luka Doncic by scoring 35 combined but it wasn’t enough for the victory.
The Mavericks conclude their home stand by going 0-2. They will now get on a plane to head to Utah to face the Jazz on Wednesday. The Mavericks will be looking to hit the right notes as they will begin a two game series with the Jazz.