The Dallas Mavericks came into the Ball Arena with a three game winning streak against reigning MVP Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets. The 1st quarter started off a little sloppy for both teams. The Nuggets come out trapping the Mavs, and it certainly disrupted the offense leading to the Nuggets taking a 20-9 lead. The Mavs cut the lead down by playing great defense as well by getting into the passing lanes forcing the Nuggets into 9 turnovers in the 1st quarter. Doncic continues to look more dedicated on the defensive end so far this season, grabbing two steals early in the game. The Mavericks spent most of the last 4 minutes of the first quarter working their way back into the game, eventually whittling the Nuggets lead to 8 at 29-21.
The second unit for the Mavs came out firing on all cylinders, led by Jalen Brunson and Willie Cauley-Stein. Brunson was able to find Cauley-Stein on two alley oops, while hitting a couple of jumpers as well, to cut the lead down to one. But the offense soon stalled again and the Nuggets fired off a 7-0 run to extend the lead. The Nuggets too advantage of weak interior defense by the Mavs and scored 24 early points in the paint, shooting 12 for 12. Nuggets continued to keep their foot on the gas, as they went on a 17-3 run. The Mavericks seemed to have plenty of great looks but their shots just wouldn’t fall, players looked lethargic and reckless at times on the second night of a back-to-back. Nuggets took advantage of all the second chance points. However, the Mavericks managed to cut the lead to ten going into halftime with a 7-0 scoring run to end the quarter.
Jokic committed two quick fouls to start the third, which put him at 4 fouls with 11:00 minutes left in the quarter. Jokic stayed aggressive in the paint though and helped the Nuggets push the lead back up to 25. The Mavs went 5 minutes without scoring a basket as the Nuggets pushed the lead up to 31. Doncic looked gassed as he tried to keep up with the accurate shooting the of the Nuggets. Mavericks were shooting just 29% from the field and 23% from three point range and were ultimately outscored 33-19 in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter Luka would find himself relegated to the bench to watch on while the second units played the rest of game for both teams. Doncic ended the game with jus 16 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists in 26 minutes. Jokic had 11 points 16 rebounds and eight assists, flirting with a triple double in his 25 minutes. The Mavericks have struggled offensively so far this season, especially early in the first quarter. With Kristaps Porzingis missing a two games so soon in the season with a strained back it’s hard to tell if this is going to be an ongoing issue.
The Mavericks will return to Dallas to take on Harrison Barnes and the Sacramento Kings Sunday @ 2:30pm on Bally Sports.