Your Denver Nuggets wrapped up the second half of a Texas back-to-back this evening after losing rather handily to the San Antonio Spurs at the Pepsi Center last night and heading straight to the Dallas Mavericks for the roadie tonight. Dallas was coming off three losses in a row and still sitting at a healthy 9-7 and in fourth place in the Western Conference entering the contest.
Gary Harris is officially out tonight with concussion symptoms, and fill-in Randy Foye nails the second shot of the game to get himself off to a decent start. The Nuggets tally the first seven points of the contest before Dallas gets on the board. A strangely distracting game to watch as the feed to L.A. has the sound about three seconds ahead of the picture, so you spend most of the game feeling pseudo-psychic.
By the six minute mark of the quarter, Dallas has been strangely unable to capitalize on Denver's three turnovers, and the Nuggets find themselves up 13-7. Denver's passing game, especially down low on the offensive end, is sloppy and creating a number of ugly turnovers.
The team starts off hot defensively, creating several Dallas turnovers of their own, including a couple nifty blocks and steals by Nikola Jokic on Zaza Pachulia. Once Dallas calls that midpoint timeout, they start to slowly make up some ground on Denver's mistake-prone offense.
In the last couple minutes of the first quarter, Gallo's scoring down low starts to translate to him heating up beyond the arc as well, and a couple of low-arc nothing-but-net treys from Danilo keep Denver in the lead, with the quarter wrapping up 25-22 Nuggets.
Q2 starts out nicely with Kenneth Faried rolling to the hoop for a continuation and-one, his first points of the game. Though Faried misses the fouls hot, he puts another roll to the basket into the hoop a minute later. Dirk Nowitzki is having his way on the opposite end of the floor against Mike Miller, and so Michael Malone answers by subbing starter Darrell Arthur against Dirk.
Dallas goes bigger, bringing former Nugget JaVale McGee into the game, and suddenly both teams open up the scoring a bit. The Nuggets maintain their three-to-five point lead through the first four minutes of the quarter with both teams finding the hoop often.
The Nuggets finally hit another cold-shooting spot, and Dallas ties the game at 31 at the 7:30 mark on a McGee tip. Denver brings Gallinari and Mudiay back into the game, and stretch the lead back to five in the next 60 seconds.
Interesting side note: for as much as Emmanuel Mudiay has struggled with his shot early this season, a pair of foul shouts midway through quarter two get his FT shooting average above 70%. Would love to see that number start with a nine someday, but far better than his early 50/50 free throw proposition.
The game becomes a series of runs for both teams to continue the quarter, with Dallas knotting the score at 42 near the three-minute mark, and at 46 at the two-minute mark.
Contrary to their last few games, Denver does NOT suffer their usual last-few-minutes-of-the-half lapse, and continues to play hard through the quarter, wrapping up the first half up 52-48 with a dozen points each for Gallinari and Arthur, and Mudiay knocking at the double-digit door with nine. Nice play by most of the crew in the first half.
Denver comes out of the locker room still turnover prone, upping their tally to a dozen giveaways less than two minutes into Q3, and Dallas goes up by two with a physical game coming out of the chutes. The ball stops falling for the Nuggets, and the Mavs are pressing the pace on both ends of the floor, extending their lead to a dozen seven minutes the frame on a 16-0 run.
Denver has had a number of these second-half lapses haunt them this season, though you could argue there are just as many first half moments as well. The Nuggets are going to have a to find a way to get out of these holes more quickly than they have this season, or they will see several of these losing streaks this season.
Terrifyingly, Denver's first score of the third quarter comes at their lowest area code, the 3:03 mark on a lay-in by the recently-entered Kenneth Faried. Things went terrifyingly wrong for Denver for the quarter as a whole, with your Nuggets outscored 25-5 in the frame, and the Mavs suddenly up 73-57 for the final quarter. Five damned points. Oof. The second-lowest scoring quarter in Nuggets history.
Denver comes out hustling with two early blocks on Mavs shots only to give up a Dirk dagger three putting Dallas up by 20 a minute into the fourth. Even with some intelligent calling of the game from Chris Marlowe and Scott Hastings this evening, the most poignant call of the night came at the 10:00 mark of Q4 for from Hastings in which yet another turnover was greeted by two seconds of silence from both men, and Scotty finally just loudly said, "Uggghhh". ‘Nuff said, rough game.
Denver pushes back at a couple points in the fourth, closing the gap to 11 just inside the seven-minute mark, but Dallas has their spots as well, and the Nuggets never fully recover from their brutal third frame. Defense was improved, but not enough to make up for a disappearing offense, 19 turnovers, and 40% shooting from the floor.
6-5 has turned into 6-11, Nuggets Nation. Some great moments in three quarters, and still only an 11-point loss, but a dark quarter doomed the team to press the streak to six. This kicks off a five-game road trip, my friends... and a scary way to start. What did you see, Nuggets Nation?