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Recap: Nuggets out-tank the Mavs, lose 118-107

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The Nuggets took a night off against a team that is still very much interested in competing when given the chance, getting embarrassed by the Mavericks on Tuesday night.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Well, the Nuggets lost.

Yogi Ferrell had a season high 24 points on 11 shots, making all six of his 3-point attempts in the game. Dennis Smith Jr. had 18 points and 11 assists, and the Mavericks shot 55 percent from the perimeter in a game where the Nuggets just played some truly awful defense.

Wilson Chandler lead the Nuggets in scoring with 21 points, but Nikola Jokic had another game with single-digit points and enjoyed the final minutes of the game from the bench in a pitiful performance.

The Nuggets started the game by leaving Yogi Ferrell and Dirk Nowitzki open on the perimeter, the ONE AREA WHERE THEY CAN HURT TEAMS, and the Mavs jumped out to a 11-5 lead following a Dwight Powell dunk. Their defense looked like they weren’t ready for the game, or they expected the Mavericks to not even try at all. They settled for jumpers on offense, and just looked lethargic for the first six minutes.

Will Barton checked into the game, and the Nuggets made a bit of a comeback, drawing within two points after Wilson Chandler made a short bank shot off a pass from Will Barton. Nowitzki made a 3-pointer at the end of the quarter off a kickout from JJ Barea to give the Mavericks a 29-25 lead.

The reserves battled their way to a 43-42 lead, and after a couple possessions, Chandler was able to make a 3-pointer to give the Nuggets a lead they wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the half. Gary Harris had four straight points, and the Nuggets were up by seven points. They struggled with a rash of turnovers for a stretch, and a Yogi Ferrell 3-pointer cut the lead to four points with a minute left. It’s another situation where they were unable to close out a quarter successfully. Jamal Murray was able to score on the Nuggets final possession with a strong left-handed drive to the rim, bowling over Nerlens Noel, but they fell asleep on defense for a final possession AGAIN and Dennis Smith Jr. was able to drive for a layup with 2.6 seconds left. The Nuggets did score 37 points in the quarter, and had a 62-58 lead at halftime, but things could have been much better.

There are no words to describe how bad things went for the Nuggets in the third quarter. Dirk started the quarter with a 3-pointer, and then dropped in another one two minutes later to give the Mavericks the lead, 66-65. Jokic went into the post against Nerlens Noel on two straight possessions, finally being aggressive and trying to score rather than just moping around the perimeter trying to pass the ball, but after his second basket, the Mavericks pulled off a 17-3 run to take a 88-77 lead with about three and a half minutes remaining. A Dennis Smith Jr. layup gave the Mavericks a 13 point lead, and the rookie had a steal a few seconds later, dishing to Doug McDermott in transition for a layup. Mason Plumlee flicked in a hook shot just before the buzzer to cut the lead to 11, but they lost the quarter by 15 points, 38-23, in an inexcusable performance.

The Nuggets started the fourth quarter, and decided their comeback would begin by missing three consecutive 3-pointers, one from Malik Beasley and two from Devin Harris. Trey Lyles decided to attack the rim, got fouled, but missed both of his free throws, and the lead stayed at 12 for the Mavericks. Beasley had a couple nice plays, getting to the free throw line in transition and then finding Devin Harris for a layup following a steal to cut the lead to seven points, causing Rick Carlisle to call timeout.

Carlisle was able to calm the storm, and the Mavericks ground their way back to a 13 point lead, with Yogi Ferrell making his sixth 3-pointer to reach a season-high 24 points. A Harrison Barnes jumper caused Michael Malone to call timeout, which the Nuggets followed up with a missed jumper by Gary Harris. The Mavericks took an 18 POINT LEAD with two minutes left after the Nuggets missed shot after shot, and the game was officially over.

Box Score

Takeaways

This was pathetic. This isn’t how playoff teams play against teams like the Mavericks in a time of the season where wins are crucial. You can’t go out and play like you did against the Cavaliers and then have this level of effort and execution against the Mavericks. You just can’t. Yes, this is a young team. Yes, there are going to be bumps in the road to success. But the roller coaster of ups and downs has to end at some point. You have to learn how to win at some point, to take every game seriously.

Every game is a must win. If the players want to make the playoffs, they have to play better. They stole a game against the Cavaliers in Cleveland after blowing a game to the Clippers. Now they have to beat Cleveland again, although this time they’ll be at home, in order to keep pace with the Clippers. They’re one game ahead of the Jazz now. It’s not like the entire franchise isn’t aware of where they are in the standings - there’s just no excuse for losses like this.

Things aren’t over. They can still make the playoffs! This isn’t the end of the world. They can bounce back against Cleveland, and then they play the Lakers and the Kings at home. But man, this one stings. Another crappy loss to a terrible team! NUGGLIFE!