The Monday night matchup between the Denver Nuggets and the Dallas Mavericks started out hot and fast with the two sides combining for 32 points in the first six minutes of the game and knotted at 16. Nikola Jokic and Luka Doncic were trading back and forth for the first nine minutes until Jokic went to the bench en route to another triple-double with nine points, six rebounds and three assists. Following a traveling violation by Bones Hyland with two seconds left in the quarter, Jalen Brunson gave the Mavericks a 35-32 lead heading into the second quarter from deep 3-point range.

Denver gave up an early run to start the second quarter, but they steadily battled back before a Monte Morris triple rolled around the rim and fell to give them a 42-41 lead. Denver continued to build on that lead over the rest of the quarter, and they were leading 50-42 with under 5:00 remaining. A triple from Kristaps Porzingis had the Mavericks within three, but Denver went on a six-point run to close the quarter, and they would lead 58-49 at the end of the first half.

The second half started very similar to the first half with points going up in a hurry. Denver was leading by 10, but both sides were scoring effectively to start the quarter. Denver’s lead had bloated slightly, but Dallas started to fight their way back to make it a seven-point game before an old-fashioned three-point play from Jokic got the lead back to 10. Porzingis was keeping Dallas in the game by himself with 29 points midway through the third quarter. Denver’s lead was at seven before a three-point make by Frank Ntilikina made it a four-point game forced a timeout out of Michael Malone. The two sides traded buckets to end the period, and Denver was heading into the fourth quarter leading 83-79.

With Jokic on the sideline, the Mavericks put up six quick points to take their first lead since early in the game which forced a quick timeout out of Denver. The Mavericks’ lead had built to five before P.J. Dozier got Denver’s first basket of the quarter. Jokic entered the game with Denver trailing by eight in an attempt to stop the bleeding. Denver was within five with under eight minutes remaining, but that deficit ballooned to 10 over the next couple of minutes. Jokic was calling his own number down the stretch as he was battling back and forth with Luka and Porzingis to get Denver back into the game. Denver was trailing by eight with just under two minutes remaining before a Tim Haradaway Jr. 3-pointer rolled all the way around the rim to effectively end Denver’s hopes of a comeback.

Denver couldn’t score over the final couple of minutes, and they were really starting to show how tired they were on the second night of a back-to-back. In addition to it being the second night of a back-to-back, Denver was short three different starters with Will Barton, Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray all out of the lineup. Denver’s winning streak ends at five as they fall 111-101 on the road in Dallas.

Stat Leaders

Points: Nikola Jokic – 35

Assists: Monte Morris – 8

Rebounds: Jokic – 16

Player of the Game: Nikola Jokic – 35 points, 16 rebounds, 6 assists, 15-of-26 field goal, 2-of-6 3-point, 3-of-6 free throw