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Nuggets Can't Complete Second-Half Rally in Loss to Mavericks

by Christopher Dempsey
Nuggets Insider

DALLAS – Righting the ship on the road is a study in taking care of two areas above all else – playing with energy, and taking care of the details. On Monday night at the American Airlines Center, the Nuggets were one-for-two.

The details got away from the Nuggets, and thus, the game did, too, in a 122-105 loss to the Dallas Mavericks. It was the first of a six-game road trip, and snapped a Nuggets two-game win streak.

The issue was a slow start.

The Mavericks executed well from the opening tip. The area giving them their biggest edge was getting into the paint. It started with the Nuggets overrunning some closeouts and allowing Dallas ball-handlers to drive into the lane and collapse the defense. And then in fast break and isolation situations, the Mavericks were still able to wreak havoc in the interior of the Nuggets defense.

They scored 36 points in the paint in the first half alone – which equaled their season average – and finished with 64. With that as the backdrop, the Nuggets were forced to pack the paint more, which opened up passing lanes for kickouts to open shooters. That made things difficult all night.

But the Nuggets didn’t fade away.

Dallas built a 25-point lead in the first half before the Nuggets were able to get a foothold in the game. Offensively, they executed better. They rebounded better. And by midway through the third quarter, they’d cut that Dallas lead all the way down to eight.

Will Barton led the comeback by catching fire in the third. He scored 13 points in the period on 5-of-7 shooting, and the Nuggets were in business on the offensive end. Yet, Dallas continued to make just enough plays to push the lead back to 11 at the end of the third. Barton played every minute of the period, as did Gary Harris. Jamal Murray nearly did as well.

And the Nuggets turned up the transition points in the fourth quarter, running at every turn to get back into things. But it was not to be. The Mavericks executed well enough to generally keep the lead in double digits and hold the Nuggets off to get the win.

Barton led the Nuggets with 23 points. Murray finished with 22 and Gary Harris had 21 points to highlight four players in double figures. Harrison Barnes led the Mavericks with 22 points and 10 rebounds.

The Nuggets are back in action on Wednesday night at New Orleans.

Christopher Dempsey: and @chrisadempsey on Twitter