Jokic's buzzer-beater lifts Nuggets over Mavs
NUGGETS 100, MAVERICKS 99
Nikola Jokic drained a 9-foot leaner as time expired, and the host Denver Nuggets rallied to beat the Dallas Mavericks 100-99 on Thursday night.
Jokic one-upped Dallas rookie Luka Doncic, whose dunk with 5.8 seconds left gave Dallas a one-point lead. But Denver called timeout, then got the ball to Jokic, and he hit a floater around Dwight Powell.
Jokic finished with 11 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists, and Paul Millsap had a season-high 33 points for Denver.
Doncic had 24 points, Jalen Brunson scored 20 and Tim Hardaway Jr. finished with 17 for the tired Dallas squad.
The Mavericks didn’t arrive in Denver until 9 a.m. Thursday because of the blizzard slamming much of the middle of the country. Flights were canceled and road conditions were impassable in much of the Denver metro area.
The Mavericks were in control for the first three-plus quarters, but they were held to 10 points in the fourth quarter. Denver got within 65-63 three-plus minutes into the third, but the Mavericks scored 14 of the game’s next 20 points to go up by 10. Dirk Nowitzki hit two of his 3-pointers during the stretch and finished with nine points.
Doncic hit the first shot of the fourth to put Dallas ahead by 12 but Jamal Murray and Malik Beasley hit 3-pointers and when Jokic scored his first basket of the game with 6:29 left, Denver was within two at 93-91.
The Mavericks scored just four points over a six-minute span, and the Nuggets tied it at 95 on Millsap’s layup with 2:59 left. Jokic split a pair of free throws with 1:06 left to give Denver its first lead since the second quarter at 98-97.
The Mavericks certainly didn’t look jet lagged in the first half. They took an early lead and built it up to nine points before the Nuggets got going. Murray’s only five points of the first half came on a dunk and a 3-pointer that got Denver even at 33, and the Nuggets finally went when Millsap hit a pair of free throws with 9:12 left in the quarter.
Dallas didn’t go away, however. Hardaway hit a pair of 3-pointers to help the Mavericks finish the first half on a 13-2 run to lead 57-51 at the break.