American Airlines Cente–With a few seconds remaining on the clock, Jokic posted Dallas forward Dorian Finney-Smith down low before scoring the game-winning basket. The Nuggets beat the Mavericks 107-106 at the American Airlines Center.
The Mavericks controlled the game for three quarters but a late surge by Jokic was the difference. It came down to the final possession for the Nuggets and they made good of it.
“He’s our go-to player. He’s an MVP candidate for a reason,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “End of the games, the ball will be in his hand to make the right play, and tonight it was to score.
Jokic was the high man for the Nuggets finished with 33 points, seven assists, and six boards.
Jokic in the first quarter started to establish himself on the blocks that the Mavs switched to a zone defense to slow Jokic down. That allowed Dallas to sprint off on a 10-2 run and increase their lead but Denver answered back with a 5-0 run of their own right at the end of the quarter and was down by five points after one.
Denver had a difficult time with Dallas big men on the blocks in the second quarter lucky for them they had number 15 on their team. Doncic responded in the second quarter which gave the Mavericks a three-point lead at the break.
After the break, the Nuggets made some adjustments and made it their business to feed the beast. Jokic scored 21 points in the third quarter. He hit four 3-pointers and was abusing everyone in the post area.
“He keeps the defense on edge at all times,” Malone said. “You want to be up. You want to show him a crowd. You want to have high, active hands, try to get the ball out of his hands at time, and hope that other guys are missing shots.”
Jokic kept the Nuggets within striking distance as Doncic imposed his will on the game. Doncic ran through double-teams, was able to create his own shot to the tune of 12 points of his own in the quarter. By the end of their one-on-one battle, the Mavericks had an 89-86 lead heading into the last quarter.
Nikola Jokic scored 26 of his 33 points in the second half, including the winning basket with 7.9 seconds left, and the Denver Nuggets barely pulled off the win.
Luka Doncic led the Mavericks with 27 points, 10 assists, without Kristaps Porzingis (right knee soreness), who is second on the team in scoring and rebounding.
Denver was led by Grant, who chipped in 13 points but only had one rebound over the first two quarters.
“When you get ready for certain teams, on one hand you’re scared, saying, ‘How are we going to stop this guy?’ Malone said. “Then, on the other hand, as a coach and a fan of the game, I’m saying, ‘Man, this guy is special.”