Final: Nuggets 117, Mavs 107
Box Score | Highlights
Behind the Box Score
The first half featured two huge, extended runs, one by each team. The Nuggets opened up leading 22-13, then the Mavs outscored Denver 35-10 to take a 16-point lead. But by the end of the second quarter, Denver led 60-58. Both teams scored better than 1.2 points per possession in the first half, which is a pretty serious clip. The Nuggets caught fire in the second quarter, in particular, scoring 1.455 PPP on better than 60 percent shooting in the frame.
Both teams were hot tonight, which unfortunately for Dallas meant Denver also hit plenty of shots. Emmanuel Mudiay converted on a career-high four 3s, while Gary Harris scored a career-high 24. Meanwhile, Nikola Jokic flirted with a triple-double. So it went tonight, when both teams were spitting fire for most of the game.
Harrison Barnes has got some moves. In the first half alone, he hit a turnaround fade, a step-back mid-range J, and a running baby hook in traffic. He hit another fadeaway and a left-handed running floater in the second half, too. You don’t necessarily want players to make a habit of taking tough shots, but Barnes has demonstrated that he can make them, no matter where his defender is, or what size he is. He finished with 19 points on 9-of-15 shooting, which gives him his 28th consecutive game in double-figures. That’s the third-longest streak by any non-Dirk Maverick since the beginning of the 2004-05 season, according to Basketball-Reference. Josh Howard (50 and 32) is the only other Maverick to have a longer run in double-digits.
J.J. Barea made his return to action tonight after missing 17 straight games with a left calf strain. He made an immediate impact before reaching his minutes limit by halftime, scoring 11 points to go along with four assists, a free throw assist, three rebounds, a steal, and two offensive fouls drawn. He flashed some real chemistry with A.J. Hammons in the first quarter, as the two scored 10 straight points for the Mavs out of the same high pick-and-pop set, three points going to Hammons on yet another trey. The Puerto Rican had been playing the best ball of his career before suffering the calf injury in Boston last month, but he appeared to pick up right where he left off tonight. The Mavs’ hope is as he continues to round into form and play more minutes, he can carry this same efficiency and production forward.
With Barea’s return, the Mavs’ guard rotation should be a bit more concrete in the future. However, because he was on a minutes restriction, it threw everything just a bit out of whack. Devin Harris only played in the second half before being replaced by Jonathan Gibson, which could also have something to do with the fact that the Mavs played yesterday, too. Meanwhile, Deron Williams started, as usual, while Seth Curry primarily played shooting guard. How Dallas divvies up the minutes on Wednesday in Portland should be a better indication of the plan going forward, as the Mavs won’t be on the second night of a back-to-back.
The Mavs (7-21) play the Portland Trail Blazers (13-16) on Wednesday at the Moda Center at 9 p.m. Central.