The Nuggets were coming into this game trying to prove that they were better than they showed on Friday night. It was apparent with how they came out that they wanted to win. It wasn’t the prettiest opening quarter — MPJ still struggled and there were some issues with how much they were getting called for fouls, but the Nuggets did a good job containing Luka Doncic and forcing other Mavericks players to beat them. It led to open jump shots for the Mavericks, but they missed a decent amount of them in the opening quarter.
On the other end of things, DeAndre Jordan had a strong opening with 6 points and 8 rebounds in the first quarter. The Nuggets shot 1-6 from beyond the arc in the first, but were generating good looks at the rim and outscored the Mavericks in the paint. Jeff Green did suffer an injury, but was deemed questionable to return. Bruce Brown was the other standout for the Nuggets with 4 points and 4 assists, he was moving the ball well and was creating pressure on the Mavericks on both ends of the floor. The Nuggets were tied with the Mavs 25-25 at the end of the first frame.
What a dime by Brown to CB in the corner pic.twitter.com/5rcyLxJ2gG— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) November 21, 2022
The Nuggets had a strong opening quarter, but the early minutes in the second quarter only expanded on their play — Bones Hyland especially came to play. The sophomore has struggled this season within the arc this season, but he was generating a lot of rim pressure; finishing and making plays for his teammates. The entire lineup that was playing for that stint was excellent. Christian Braun was a low mistake player as always, Vlatko Cancar was a solid depth piece, and Davon Reed knocked down some clean looks.
The lead for the Nuggets got up to 10 at one point, with MPJ getting a rhythm after knocking down some baseline jumpers, and Bones still pressuring the Mavericks’ defense. However, the Mavericks switched to a zone and that stopped any rhythm the Nuggets’ offense had as they didn’t score in the last 2 and a half minutes of the half. The defense also let up with Davis Bertans knocking down three 3 point shots in the quarter. Luka Doncic almost put the Mavericks up by 7, but he stepped out of bounds at the buzzer so the Nuggets found themselves down 56-52.
After Luka Doncic stepped out of bounds, the last two seconds were played at the start of the third quarter. In those two seconds, Vlatko Cancar hit a 3⁄4 court shot and put the Nuggets only down by 1. That bucket started a shift in momentum for the Nuggets, going from looking like they’d be down 7, only to be down by 1. The Nuggets started making more of their shots too. Zeke Nnaji had a few good defensive possessions on Luka Doncic too, with Luka trying to bait contact from him, but he remained disciplined and it led to transition offense for the Nuggets.
The referees gave the Mavericks some weak calls that allowed the Mavericks to cut into the lead that the Nuggets had built up, but the Nuggets stayed strong. Even though they were more impressive early in the quarter, some late shots from Bones and a great block from Zeke Nnaji to prevent a bucket by Luka at the end of the quarter allowed the Nuggets to hold on to their lead for this quarter and were up 79-74 at the end of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter started with Bones being the focal point for the Nuggets, with him scoring 6 points in the first 3 minutes of the quarter — the defense couldn’t support him though. The Mavericks pushed back with Josh Green knocking down his fifth 3 pointer of the night after Bones fell asleep on the defensive end. Eventually, Dallas took the lead back from the Nuggets at the 7:48 point and Coach Malone called a timeout for the Nuggets.
Out of the timeout, Bones Hyland kept it rolling. He was electric — scoring inside, outside, and drawing trips to the charity stripe. The Nuggets unfortunately got hit with the best performance of Josh Green’s career and he was nearly keeping pace with Bones. MPJ had two bad plays back to back where he cost the team points, and outside of his second quarter spurt of points, he had been bad in the game. However, when the team needed him most he came through. He hit a 3 pointer to put the Nuggets up 98-97. The Nuggets would hold that lead and they win their first game without Nikola Jokic.
The standout this game was Bones Hyland though — having 29 points 10-21 shooting and 3-8 from beyond the arc. That marks a new career high for the sophomore, who has come into a great form lately. DeAndre Jordan also had 17 rebounds — a crucial part of the Nuggets getting this one. MPJ had 14 points and the game winner. One hell of a game for the Nuggets.