Final: Mavs 97, Nuggets 88

Box Score | Highlights

Behind the Box Score

The Mavs had eight steals in the first half. The team record for swipes in one half is 14, set in 1994. For the game Dallas finished with 14 steals, setting a new season-best mark.

The Mavs now have a 22-10 record when leading after the first quarter and a 27-5 mark when leading after three.

Wesley Matthews hit his 163rd three-pointer of the season in this game, moving him past Jason Terry and Vince Carter for sixth place on the franchise’s single-season three-pointers made list. The team record is 257, set by George McCloud during the 1995-96 season. Second on the list is Jose Calderon’s 191. Matthews has a chance to catch the Spaniard this season, as the Mavs still have eight games left. But I have a feeling that no matter what happens this year, Matthews will end up rewriting the top-five in the coming seasons.

Dallas committed only four turnovers, tying a franchise record for fewest in a game. They would’ve had the organization-best mark if it weren’t for a meaningless late-game shot clock violation… but the win probably matters more.


  • After the disappointing loss yesterday, it was great to see the Mavericks respond the way they did tonight, especially considering the game was in Denver, a notoriously difficult place to play on the second night of a back-to-back. This is a team of veteran guys — although the youngsters deserve plenty of credit for this game — that isn’t going to go down easy in this tight playoff chase. This is a hugely important win for the Mavericks, and it was evident from the opening tip that a win is what they wanted. The team played scrappy and tough on defense and patient and calculated on offense. There wasn’t a nervous bone in the team’s body tonight; if they were playing under any pressure, you couldn’t tell. That’s the response you want to see from this team in what essentially was a must-win situation.

  • With the Mavs on the second night of a back-to-back and needing some energy against the athletic Nuggets, Rick Carlisle gave Justin Anderson the second start of his young career. Anderson responded by playing his best game as an NBA player, scoring 11 points and blocking two shots, including a vicious rejection of center Nikola Jokic on a point-blank layup attempt. Anderson had a couple put-back dunks off of his own teammates’ misses, as well. He’s got more athleticism than any young player the Mavs have had in a while, easily making him one of the most exciting young prospects to come through Dallas in some time. If he can continue to grow as a player, he’s going to have a wonderful career. However, that’s for the future. For now, Anderson’s athletic contributions are helping the Mavericks compete for a playoff spot, and today — right now — that matters more than anything. Dwight Powell also received the first starting not of his career, and he contributed among other things a career-high 16 points, two steals and a blocked shot, including a personal run of eight straight points for the Mavericks in the fourth quarter as the club extended its lead to 10 points. Both guys played the games of their careers, and they couldn’t have chosen a better night to do it.

  • After last night’s loss in Sacramento, Carlisle hinted the Mavs might play at a slower tempo tonight, and perhaps moving forward, in an attempt to play a more execution-based style on offense instead of the freewheeling game typical of the small-ball lineups Dallas had relied upon in recent weeks. That certainly was the case in the first half, as the Mavericks played only 44 possessions. Heading into this game, the Mavs had been averaging 100 possessions per 48 minutes in their last 10 contests, so 44 in a half (on pace for 88 in a game) is a significant change in tempo. Dallas ended up playing 89 possessions, according to team analytics. There’s no league-wide correlation between tempo and winning — some great teams play fast and some bad teams play fast, and the opposite also holds true. However, every team is unique and plays best at a certain tempo. Maybe the slow-down, grind-it-out tempo will work better for the Mavs down the stretch. We’ll see what happens on Wednesday night when the Knicks come to town, who currently play the sixth-slowest pace in the league.

  • Excluding those following timeouts, Denver scored just six of its first 31 points of the game during possessions immediately following a Mavericks bucket. That means 25 of the club’s first 31 points came after a Mavs miss or turnover. Dallas is like a running team in the NFL; the Mavericks are at their best when they control the tempo of the game. After a made bucket, Dallas can get back down the floor and set its defense, allowing the team to defend as one five-man unit. Teams like Denver, which holds an athletic advantage, can move the ball quickly in transition and find easier buckets that way. In a halfcourt game, though — a playoff tempo, if you will — the Mavs often find themselves with the upper hand.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (36-38) play the New York Knicks (30-45) Wednesday at American Airlines Center. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. Central.

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