Nikola Jokic finished with 26 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds for the Nuggets, who had their five-game winning streak snapped. Michael Porter Jr. scored 17 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter and Will Barton also had 23 for Denver.
The Nuggets were coming off a 103-102 victory in Memphis on Friday night and got into town early Saturday. Coach Michael Malone said there was an issue with the team’s COVID-19 testing in the morning, which impacted Denver’s energy against Dallas.
“They tested in the morning, and because of a mistake (the players) had to come back to the arena, probably between 12 and 1, which I’m sure messed up a lot of their game-day routines,” Malone said. “The bottom line, especially that second and third quarter, we did not play nearly well enough on either end of the floor.”
The Nuggets looked fresh early, scoring the first 10 points of the game, but the Mavericks recovered to trail by one after the first quarter and outscored Denver 33-22 in the second.
“You take away the first three minutes of the game, it was a very good effort,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said.
The Mavericks led by seven early in the third and pulled away from long range. Dallas was 9 of 18 on 3-pointers in the period and took just six shots from inside the arc. Josh Richardson hit all three of his 3-point attempts and Maxi Kleber made both of his, including one at the end of the period to put the Mavericks ahead 93-73.
Richardson finished with 20 points.
“They started getting offensive rebounds and they just started playing harder than us,” Porter said. “Just a bad night all around. We’ve got to bounce back. We’ll be all right.”
The Nuggets got within 14 on Porter’s 12 straight points. Dallas pushed the lead back to 18 but Jokic and Porter hit 3-pointers to make it 105-93. The Nuggets couldn’t get any closer and Porzingis hit a deep 3-pointer with 2:24 left to put the Mavericks up 17.
“When he’s rolling on both ends it gives us a lot of energy,” Richardson said. “He’s blocking shots, he can score from anywhere, and even when he’s not scoring he understands he draws doubles and he’s a good teammate. These last few weeks he’s been great for us.”
Mavericks: Porzingis and Doncic were back in the lineup after sitting out at Oklahoma City on Thursday night. ... Dallas won the season series with Denver 2-1, with both of the victories coming on the road.
Nuggets: G Monte Morris (quad strain) was inactive. It was just the second game Morris has missed this season. Gary Harris (left adductor strain) and R.J. Hampton (NBA health and safety protocols) continued to be sidelined. ... F JaMychal Green returned to action after missing seven games with a shoulder injury and another with a stomach issue. He had five points.
Jamal Murray had another tough shooting night, going 4 for 13 from the floor a night after missing 13 of 14 shots. Murray made just one shot in the first half and finished with 10 points
Malone isn’t worried about his guard’s recent slump.
“Prior to a 1-for-14 outing, Jamal’s numbers and consistency have been remarkable,” Malone said. “Obviously, we know he is going to get back to that.”
Mavericks: Host the L.A. Clippers on Monday and Wednesday nights.
Nuggets: Host the Indiana Pacers on Monday night.
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