3 Studs, 2 duds in Mavericks' first loss of the season to Nuggets

Dallas Mavericks v Denver Nuggets
Dallas Mavericks v Denver Nuggets / C. Morgan Engel/GettyImages
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3. Stud - Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving returned to action after a two-game absence. He missed both games due to a foot injury but didn't show any signs of injury as he played 35 minutes against the Nuggets.

Irving scored 22 points, dished out seven assists, recorded four steals, and blocked two shots. Additionally, Irving shot 9-of-15 from the floor. His best shooting performance this season.

Despite shooting 1-of-5 from 3-point range, Irving still had success on offense. He consistently broke down the defense, knocked down mid-range jumpers, and dished to the open man whenever he couldn't get off a favorable look.

And even better for Dallas, Irving was locked in on defense. His six stocks (steals and blocks), were a season-high. Defending Jamal Murray is not easy, but Irving did his best Jrue Holiday impression. Murray shot 5-of-15 from the floor, his second-worst shooting performance of the season.

This is arguably the best defensive game Irving has had since being on the Mavs, and he played great off and on the ball. He was anticipating passes, stealing the ball as the help defender, and flying around the court. Irving typically isn't known as the best defender, but he showed what an elite defensive performance looks like on Friday night.

A strong offensive and defensive showing is exactly what Mavs fans wanted to see. Going forward, it'd be nice to see Irving play more aggressively.