How it happened: Mavs coach Rick Carlisle wasn’t happy with the lack of calls for Monta Ellis’ aggressiveness, and Carlisle was ejected with 5:14 left in the second. He probably also wasn’t happy as his team was lethargic in the opening portion of the game.
Dallas started the game early with a zone defense, and the results weren’t optimal as Denver carved up the Mavericks' tired legs. Outside of Dirk Nowitzki and Ellis, Dallas really didn’t have anything going in terms of consistency on offense early. Vince Carter’s recent shooting drought continued in Denver. Entering the game against the Nuggets, Carter was shooting 11-of-33 from the field. He started the game against Denver shooting 1-of-7 from the field. The Mavs allowed the Nuggets to score 65 points in the first half.
Dallas got into the bonus with 6:30 left in the third quarter, allowing the team to keep within striking distance. Going without a headband in the second half, Carter drilled three much-needed shots for the Mavs. They ended up going through a bad drought after Carter’s outburst, missing their next eight shots. Another big shot from Carter signaled an 11-point quarter, bringing the Mavs to within six going into the fourth quarter.
With the shot-clock running down, Ellis knocked down a huge jumper to give the Mavs a quick 89-88 lead with just more than 7 minutes to go in the game. The teams went on the seesaw, as neither could seize control of the game.
Randy Foye hit a 3-pointer from the wing to give Denver a 101-100 lead with just under a minute to go, and the Nuggets were able to secure the win. Despite the loss, Nowitzki answered the challenge and delivered nine big points in the fourth quarter for Dallas. The Mavs will look to settle the score as they face the Nuggets again in Dallas on Monday night.
What it means: Dallas ultimately paid the price for nearly blowing a 28-point lead to the Utah Jazz the previous night. The nature of a back-to-back and having to play in altitude had this pegged to be a “scheduled loss.” Outside of the big three of Nowitzki, Ellis and Carter, the rest of the Mavs were relative no-shows.
Play of the game: Just before the half, as Dallas got the deficit down to single digits, Denver guard Evan Fournier missed a running jump shot with just a minute left to go. There wasn’t a Mav who wanted to box out, and Kenneth Faried went right down the rim for a monster putback slam. Faried had more offensive rebounds than the entire Dallas squad (4-2) in the first half.
Stat of the night: Denver moved to 49-8 over the past four seasons against teams who came into town on the second night of a back-to-back. Only San Antonio has a better record in the same scenario at 50-6.