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Sunday, November 27, 2022
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Mavericks Fall Flat Against Shorthanded Nuggets

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Denver Nuggets beat Dallas Mavericks | Image by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

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A buzzer-beater from beyond midcourt when the final two seconds of the first half were replayed after the halftime break sparked the shorthanded Denver Nuggets in a 98-97 victory over the Dallas Mavericks in American Airlines Center.

The bizarre sequence at the end of the first half resulted in a momentum-changing six-point swing in favor of Denver, who was without starters Nikola Jokic, Aaron Gordon, and Jamal Murray.

Dallas went to the locker room for halftime thinking they were up seven (59-52) after a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Luka Doncic that appeared to finish a 14-2 run for the Mavericks to end the half.

However, referees reviewed the video and determined that the back of Doncic’s foot touched the sideline with two seconds remaining as he released the shot. With both teams in the locker room, the referees ruled that the final two seconds of the second quarter would have to be replayed before the start of the third quarter.

The Mavericks were not told that Doncic’s shot had been waived off until moments before they took the court for what both teams thought was the start of the second half.

When the game picked up for the final two seconds of the second quarter, Denver’s Vlatko Cancar took the inbounds pass and, without dribbling, hit a running 53-footer that swished through the basket – completing a shocking six-point swing.

Instead of the 59-52 lead the Mavericks thought they had at halftime, it was 56-55.

“I mean, it’s difficult,” said Doncic, who scored 22 points but went scoreless in the fourth quarter. “It was plus-7 to minus-2, something like that. It’s a real momentum, you know, but we can’t say that decided the game.”

The Nuggets took advantage of the momentum swing by taking the lead and extending it to 71-64 when Doncic, on two consecutive possessions, wound up on the floor after believing he was fouled on three-point attempts. On both occasions, Denver responded by draining the three-pointers in response.

Doncic got his usual rest to start the fourth quarter, but he surprisingly did not return to the court until 5:17 remained, with the score tied 93-93.

The Mavericks took a 97-93 lead with 1:59 left after a pair of Dwight Powell layups off of Doncic assists, but the Nuggets kept fighting, taking the lead for good, 98-97, on a Michael Porter Jr. three-pointer with 55 seconds left.

A last-second 35-foot shot from Doncic bounced off the rim, sending him running toward referee Rodney Mott, arms out in disbelief.

What to Know

Sunday’s loss to Denver came just 48 hours after Dallas dominated the Nuggets by 28 points on the same court. Denver was missing Jokic, Murray, and Gordon in both affairs but was also without one of the replacements, Jeff Green, on Sunday night with a right knee injury.

It’s the fourth time this season that the Mavericks (9-7) lost to a team playing without at least one of its stars.

The Mavericks lost at New Orleans on a night when the Pelicans were without two starters, including Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.

Dallas also lost at home to an Orlando team without Paolo Banchero and at Washington when Bradley Beal and Kristaps Pozingis sat out.

“We don’t have that luxury to relax,” Kidd said. “We’ve relaxed here in the past when stars are out and we tend to find ourselves with the L.”

By the Numbers

Josh Green led Dallas in scoring off the bench with a career-high 23 points. His only miss on an 8-of-9 shooting night, including 6-of-7 on three-pointers, came at a crucial moment on a long-range shot with the Mavericks leading by two in the final 70 seconds.

Bones Hyland scored a career-high 29 points to lead Denver, and Porter Jr. had 12, with his only made three-pointer in five attempts providing the final score.

Who Said

The Mavericks were clearly out of sorts to start the third quarter after the bizarre sequence, falling behind by 10 before rallying in the closing minutes.

Still, as Mavericks coach Jason Kidd noted of the six-point swing, “We still had the lead. We just came out flat in that third. They took advantage of that, took control of the game. As coaches, myself, we’ve got to be better.”

Next Up

The loss is the conclusion of a Mavericks’ five-game homestand that resulted in a 3-2 record. Dallas will play the first of three straight road games, and four of five away from home, Tuesday against the Eastern Conference-leading Boston Celtics.

Free Throws

The Mavericks not only lost the game but also starting guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who left with a dislocated left shoulder with 1:27 left in the game. Dinwiddie said he was “fine” postgame after popping his shoulder back in.

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