The Denver Nuggets finished out their five game road trip with a game against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. Doncic proved to be every bit worth the hype but Nikola Jokic had a massive third quarter and led all scorers on the night with thirty-three points. The Mavericks controlled the game for almost it’s entirety but behind Jokic the Nuggets surged late. It would end up coming down to the final possession and the Nuggets proved to have just enough to get it done. Denver ekes out a high quality victory 107-106.
The game started with the backcourts doing the scoring and neither team gaining an advantage. Jokic was doing work in the passing game, eating up assist after assist from the top of the circle but Luka, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Dwight Powell were playing well and got the Mavs the lead. Luka wasn’t outright killing the Nuggets and even got blocked twice in one possession by Jerami Grant but he had enough to keep the Mavs in front by a slim margin. When the benches checked in the Mavericks switched to a zone defense which stalled the Nuggets offense a bit. That allowed the Mavs to reel off a 10-2 run and increase their lead but luckily Denver got a mini 5-0 run of their own right at the end of the quarter and only trailed by five after one.
The Nuggets had their full bench out to start the second quarter and they we able to keep pace while Doncic was also off the court for Dallas. Michael Porter Jr. was struggling mightily which capped the offensive prowess of the bench unit but they had strong defense. Malik Beasley was providing the scoring that Denver was getting, but then the defense started to slip again. The Nuggets were having a tough time in particular stopping Dallas’ bigs in the second quarter, both Maxi Kleber and Dwight Powell did some damage as the quarter progressed. The Nuggets starters came back in and got things under control, behind Jokic and some high energy play from Torrey Craig they were able to mount a rally and get their first lead of the game. Doncic immediately responded and had a strong close to the quarter which gave the Mavs a three point lead at half.
Murray got the Nuggets going to start the second half but Powell continued to be a thorn in Denver’s side. The Nuggets kept getting frustratingly close to take the lead again and unfortunately just couldn’t get over the hump. The main reason of course was Doncic who continued his assault on the Nuggets defense and was already above twenty points on the night. On the Nuggets end Jokic found his shooting stroke so while the Nuggets couldn’t regain the lead, they kept within striking distance. In fact for a large part of the third quarter it was merely Jokic vs. Doncic with both trading basket for basket. Joker knocked down a three at the two minute mark to finally tie the game at 80. The final two minutes of the quarter were a crazy three point barrage, Jokic ended up with 21 points in the quarter but the Mavericks still held a three point lead.
Kleber had a couple strong possessions to start the fourth but the Nuggets bench hung tough and tied the game on a 7-0 run to force a Dallas timeout. Both teams elected to stick with their benches a bit longer and the Nuggets were able to take advantage, gaining the lead on a Porter dunk off a nice feed from Plumlee. The starters checked back in and Doncic was aggressive but the Nuggets weren’t backing down which kept the game neck and neck. The Mavs went on a 5-0 run at the two minute mark which gave them the lead in the home stretch. The Nuggets responded and cut the lead to one going into the final minute and had a couple opportunities. The Mavericks had a chance to put Denver away but couldn’t get a bucket leaving the Nuggets down one with the ball and 23 seconds. Joker worked to get a good shot and nailed it but left enough time for Dallas to get one more shot. The Mavericks completely blew the last possession and failed to even get off a shot. Nuggets win 107-106.