The Dallas Mavericks were at the center of one of the strangest moments in the NBA this season on Nov. 20. Superstar Luka Doncic drilled a 3-pointer as time expired in the second quarter to put his team up 59-52, but after both teams were already in the locker room, replay ruled that he stepped out of bounds with two seconds remaining. Instead of bringing the two teams back out to finish the half, the referees decided to play the final two seconds right before the start of the third quarter, and this is where things got even stranger.
The Nuggets substituted in Vlatko Cancar, who drilled a halfcourt buzzer-beater to push Denver without one-point after 24 minutes. Marc Stein reported that Cancar works extensively on those shots, and it paid off as the shorthanded Nuggets pulled a massive 98-97 upset on Sunday night in Dallas.
It is easy to point to that six-point as the difference in the game, but the Maverick lost for several other reasons. He is a look at why their shooting, rebounding, rim protection, and clutch woes were the real reasons why Luka and company dropped an inexcusable game on Nov. 20.
Luka Doncic overturned 3 not why Dallas Mavericks lost to shorthanded Nuggets
The bizarre sequence to end the first half had social media buzzing, and it was certainly a talking point after the final whistle. Luka claimed his heel never actually hit out of bounds, but the referees ruled that it did, which opened the door for Cancar to hit the jaw-dropping 3-pointer. It was a momentum swing, but far from the main culprit of why the Mavericks lost on Sunday night.
Denver was without Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Aaron Gordon for both meetings in Dallas. On Friday night, the Mavericks came out hungry and immediately took control of the game. They tried sleepwalking their way through on Sunday, and it came back to bite them.
The starting five made five of their 25 3-point shots in the loss, and Tim Hardaway Jr. missed all nine of his field goal attempts, including five 3-pointers. The Nuggets were double-teaming Doncic and forcing him to give up the ball, and nobody converted their open looks.
To make matters worse, the Mavs made just 12 of their 21 free throws in a one-point loss. They were outrebounded 44 to 36, and the Nuggets had an eight-point edge in points in the paint. Dallas struggled to protect the rim, and they settled for too many 3-pointers on Sunday night.
To put the cherry on top, Dallas scored just four points in the final five minutes of the game, including going two of eight from the field with one turnover. The Mavs missed five 3-pointers, including the Luka Doncic would-be game-winner at the buzzer. They have struggled to consistently make shots in clutch situations this season, and those woes returned on Sunday night.
The bizarre sequence to end the first half was an easy target, but the Dallas Mavericks lost to the Denver Nuggets on Nov. 20 because the shorthanded road team wanted to win more. The Mavs took things for granted, and they paid the price.
Still, the Dallas Mavericks are 9-7 as they start a three-game road trip on Wednesday night against the Boston Celtics. They travel to Toronto and Milwaukee as well for a difficult stretch that will be another measuring stick for the team. Do not miss it.