Jokic And Doncic Duel As Mavericks Secure Overtime Win
The Denver Nuggets fell to 3-5 on the season last night with a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
The game started sloppily in the first half, with the Mavs and Nuggets shooting 33% and 37% from the field. The Nuggets held a consistent lead, weathering a couple of Maverick runs, for a 52-43 halftime lead. The superstars for both teams struggled. Nikola Jokic was 3 for 12 in the first half and picked up 3 fouls. Luka Doncic had 14 first half points for the Mavs but had multiple careless turnovers.
Then the game flipped its script, turning into a thrilling duel between Doncic and Jokic. Both teams improved their shooting from the first half, and the game came down to the fourth quarter. Jokic put the Nuggets on his back with 17 points in the quarter, but missed 3 key free throws down the stretch that could’ve extended Denver’s lead. Doncic showed growth in adjusting from his rough first half, and hit a few clutch shots to finish with 38 points, 9 rebounds and 13 assists.
After the game, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle praised Doncic’s second half adjustments and his ability to affect the game in multiple ways. “He was doing a good job of sharing the ball at the right times, but also getting the ball in the basket,” Carlisle said. “I liked the way Luka handled the game…he stayed with it, found ways to make plays, get other guys involved, and get the win.”
Jokic also praised Luka’s game: “Luka is a really good player, he’s a tall guy who can pass…he caught us off guard.”
One of Doncic’s assists came with time winding down, when he passed to Maxi Kleber who hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 2.4 seconds left. It looked like Kleber had hit the game winner, until Jokic hit a stepback jumper at the buzzer to tie the game and send it to overtime. In overtime, Kleber had a huge block on Jokic in the paint, and when Denver came up empty on offense, Kleber was there with the offensive rebounds to help the Mavericks salt the game away.
“I’m trying to be ready and take that shot with confidence,” Kleber said. “Shots are going to fall or not — you just have to trust and believe.”
For the Nuggets, it was the same story from previous games this season. Jokic continued to play at an MVP level, finishing with 38 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists. Jamal Murray also played well, contributing 21 points and 9 assists. However, Denver blew a fourth quarter lead for the fourth time this season. Winning close games has proven to be a challenge for this team, and must be a point of emphasis moving forward.
Up next, the Nuggets travel to Philadelphia to take on the Eastern Conference leading 76ers Saturday at 3PM Eastern.