With questionable refereeing and the game clock on their side, the Nuggets narrowly escaped a furious Mavericks’ rally 105-102.
With 9:07 left in the third, Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray drained a three that extended Denver’s lead to a seemingly insurmountable 22 points.
Even the Mavericks’ beloved Mark Followill chimed in that the Mavericks’ streak of 12 straight clutch games (games in which the score was within 5 points at any point in the last five minutes) was in serious jeopardy.
However, Dallas’ resilient bunch set out to keep the streak alive. Undaunted by the deficit, the Mavs roared all the way back.
Devin Harris, savvy as ever, halted the Nuggets momentum in the third with timely threes and a drawn charge.
In the fourth, the veteran’s mentees took the baton. Yogi Ferrell, logging all twelve minutes, chipped in 7 key points while Dennis Smith scored 11 of his team high 25, including a thunderous throwdown and a critical and-one that brought the score within one (103-102) with 10 seconds to play.
Sadly, a controversial no-call on the Mavericks’ intentional foul attempt(s) allowed too much time to run off the clock. After Gary Harris calmly sank two free throws to extend the lead to three, the Mavs had just over a second to work with.
Robbed of the opportunity to run a meaningful play, Smith heaved the ball past mid-court, where the ball caromed harmlessly off the hands of Dwight Powell.
All said and done, the Mavericks simply dug too deep a hole to climb out of. Despite a valiant effort, a litany of unfavorable calls and careless turnovers down the stretch cut the comeback short.
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In the victory, Nikola Jokic wrecked havoc with 29 points, 18 rebounds and 7 assists. Gary Harris and Will Barton also did their share of damage with 25 and 22 points respectively.
Despite a lack of All Star talent, the Mavericks hard-nosed bunch have been nothing short of impressive with their effort and improvement. Since Nov. 18th, the Mavs have lost just two games by double digits. For a team dubbed by many as one of the league’s worst, Dallas certainly doesn’t make it easy for any opponent.
Moving forward, the Mavericks’ dogged determination, strong chemistry and Dennis Smith’s continued growth make for a promising squad with tantalizing potential.
The Mavericks will have three full days of rest before their next bout against Damian Lillard and the Blazers on the 20th. Tip-off is at 8 pm CT.