DENVER — The Dallas Mavericks were hoping that they could take advantage of a break that the basketball gods gave them.
While the Mavs flew to Denver on Monday afternoon in preparation of playing the Nuggets on Tuesday, the Nuggets were on the road playing the Kings in Sacramento on Monday and didn’t return to Denver until around Tuesday at 3 a.m. Whether the extra rest helped the Mavs, no one knows for sure.
What is sure is that the Mavs rallied from an 11-point deficit to run their record to 3-1 thanks to a 109-106 victory over the Nuggets on Tuesday night at the Pepsi Center.
The Mavs finished the game with a balanced attack as nine players tallied 10 or more points. Maxi Kleber and Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 14 point apiece, Luka Doncic, Dorian Finney-Smith and Delon Wright poured 12 points apiece, Jalen Brunson had 11 points and eight assists, and Kristaps Porzingis, Seth Curry and Justin Jackson finished with 10 points apiece.
Dallas got and took advantage of a call that was reversed. Jamal Murray scored to put the Nuggets up 108-107 with 1:05 left. But the play was reversed when replays showed that Kleber clearly blocked Murray’s shot.
Doncic then scored on a hard drive to put the Mavs up 109-106 with 47.1 seconds to go.
Paul Millsap scored 14 points and Will Barton 11 as the Nuggets took a slim 61-60 lead into the dressing room at the half. Actually, when the Nuggets busted out to an early 16-5 lead, 11 of those points came from Millsap.
Thus, if Millsap was feeling any effects from playing in Sacramento on Monday, he didn’t show it.
“You always want a situation where you’re rested, and if you’ve got to catch a break with the other team playing (the night before), that’s always a break on paper,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “But you’ve got to make it a break in reality on the floor.”
The Mavs were down, 31-27, after the first quarter and by seven early in the second quarter before making a strong push behind the solid play of their bench. It all started when Jalen Brunson fed Dwight Powell for a lob dunk, and then the second-year guard followed that up with a three-point play.
Delon Wright proceeded to turn a steal at midcourt into a fastbreak layup to tie the game at 45. And another fastbreak layup – this one by Justin Jackson — gave the Mavs a 47-45 lead with 5:44 left in the first half.
All of that activity by the Mavs came before they got any points from forward Kristaps Porzingis, who entered the game averaging 26.3 points and scored at least 23 points in each of the first three contests.
While the Mavs shot 52.3 percent from the field and committed six turnovers in the opening half, the Nuggets shot 50 percent and turned the ball over only two times.
“This is a top level team with great coaching and great depth,” Carlisle said of the Nuggets. “They’ve got a couple of guys that haven’t even been playing that are really good players as well.
“They’re well equipped for the regular season and certainly last year in the playoffs showed where they are as a franchise.”
Porzingis scored his first basket with 2:12 remaining in the second quarter. Shortly thereafter he added a 3-pint field goal.