Denver Nuggets 106, Dallas Mavericks 75: Three Takeaways

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Some nights things just go your way and everything falls into place. For the Denver Nuggets, that is exactly what happened in their 106-75 victory over the Dallas Mavericks Friday night at Ball Arena. Denver’s stifling defense limited Dallas to just 29.5 percent shooting from the field as the Nuggets enjoyed a perfect start to their weekend back-to-back set.

Nuggets opened up a 15-9 lead midway through the first quarter, powering through some early mistakes (five turnovers) by scoring early and often inside the paint. Denver ultimately finished with 20 points in the paint after 12 minutes, which helped fuel a 29-21 lead after one. Nikola Jokić dished out five assists in his nine minutes of action in the opening quarter.

As both teams went to bench-heavy lineups, Dallas opened the second quarter on a 9-0 run to briefly take a one-point lead. However, Denver was able to regain momentum with stellar play from Jeff Green and Will Barton before several starters checked back in. The Nuggets used a 23-5 run to extend the lead to double-digits late in the quarter and secured a 54-44 lead at the break.

Two early fouls within the opening minute of the second half put Jokić in foul trouble with four, but the reigning MVP remained in the game and helped push the lead to 20 as the Nuggets went on a 21-3 run to break the game open. As Dallas continued to struggle offensively, the Nuggets took advantage to put the game essentially to bed in the third frame. The Nuggets outscored the Mavericks 33-12 in the third quarter alone.

Both teams went deep into their respective benches early in the fourth quarter as Denver continued to maintain a significant lead. Bol Bol and Bones Hyland excited the crowd with a few buckets during the remaining minutes of the game.

Here are three takeaways from Friday’s win.

Dominance in the paint

The first half of Friday’s contest was marked by Denver’s advantage inside the paint. The Nuggets outscored the Mavericks 34-16 in the paint throughout the first 24 minutes of the game, as Denver’s offense was able to be effective in transition, cut to the basket, and take advantage of having more size in the starting lineup.

It was more of the same in the second half in this regard, with the Nuggets ultimately finishing with a 50-22 advantage in the paint. With both teams struggling from deep (Denver shot 30.6 percent, while Dallas hit just 21.6 percent), a big advantage in the paint helped fuel the dominant win for the Nuggets.

No slowing down for the MVP

Despite being questionable for Friday’s game, Jokić didn’t miss a beat against Dallas, mixing in playmaking with scoring, all while dominating on the boards. The Serbian big man finished with 11 points, 16 rebounds, and eight assists in Friday’s win, pushing through foul trouble to help Denver bounce back in a major way.

With the game out of reach after three quarters, Jokić was able to sit the fourth quarter and limit his minutes to just 25 on the first night of a back-to-back.

Clamps were activated

It’s extremely hard to limit any team to below 30 percent shooting from the field, and that is made even more difficult when going up against Luka Dončić and the Mavericks.

However, Denver was dialed in on that end of the floor Friday night, limiting Dallas to just 75 points on 29.5 percent from the field, including 21.6 percent from downtown. Dončić was held to just 16 points on 5-of-18 from the field, with Aaron Gordon and PJ Dozier often receiving that defensive assignment.

Denver is right back in action Saturday against the Minnesota Timberwolves (7 p.m. MT).