In the final match-up in the season series between the two teams, the Denver Nuggets defeated the Dallas Mavericks 104-96 in Dallas in what could be a possible first-round playoff preview. After the Mavericks fell behind as much as 16 points in the third quarter, they were able to get the game to 94-all. Dallas had to play the game without Tyson Chandler as he sat out due to a back issue. Jason Kidd was given the night off to rest his body. The Mavericks were led by Shawn Marion's 21 points and Dirk Nowitzki added 20 points in the losing effort. The Mavericks also got a surprising performance from Corey Brewer with his 13 points and Brendan Haywood pulled down a season-high 19 rebounds. The Mavericks have now lost four straight games and nine straight games against teams currently in the top eight in the Western Conference.
JR Smith scored seven points in a 9-0 Nuggets run as Denver pulled away for the victory. Smith ended up with a game-high 23 points and added five boards and three assists for the Nuggets. Denver has now won nine of the last 12 regular season meetings with Dallas. The Mavericks have gone 22-7 in the last 29 match-ups with the Nuggets at home, but Denver has taken five of the last seven at American Airlines Center.
The Mavericks now have four games remaining the regular season and they have no idea who they will be facing in the first round of the playoffs. Dallas is only a game ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Thunder have the tie-breaker over the Mavericks. If the Mavericks do retain the three seed, they could face either New Orleans, Portland or Memphis. Despite having players sit out, the team is fully confident that the team will have their rhythm in place. The goal continues to be daily improvement.
Did THAT Just Happen?!
- The Mavericks had to change their starting lineup for the 21st time of the season due to Tyson Chandler (back) and Jason Kidd (rest) sitting out. Rodrigue Beaubois, DeShawn Stevenson, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki and Brendan Haywood made up the starting lineup. As expected, the offense seemed to sputter out of the gates without Jason Kidd in the lineup. Despite his struggles, the offense still seems to flow a little more naturally when Kidd is in the lineup as he is able to direct traffic.
- The positive results for Rodridgue Beaubouis at the tail-end of the Portland game seemed to give him a sense of confidence as he was aggressive early and often to start the game as the point guard. Unfortunately, the aggression did not lead to positive results as he struggled handling the point guard responsibilities. The guard is still young and this should be a good learning experience for him going forward.
- J.J. Barea did a nice job working against the Nuggets' defense. Considering the Nuggets have gotten smaller in the backcourt after the Carmelo Anthony trade, a match-up against the Nuggets proves to be more favorable for the backup point guard. He did a tremendous job weaving through defenders and either finishing at the rim or finding an open teammate.
- Brendan Haywood did a solid job filling in for Tyson Chandler, especially on the glass. The center had a nose for the ball as he was attacking the boards and gobbled up every rebounding he could get his hands on. Ian Mahimi did a solid job backing Haywood up as well.
- After sitting out seven out of the last nine games, Corey Brewer made an appearance and made his presence felt on both sides of the court. The former Florida Gator was active in the passing leads and that helped force some turnovers. Considering the guy has been getting most of his action in two-a-day workouts, his performance was incredibly impressive as he went up against a team that had won six out of their last seven games coming into Wednesday's game.
Box Score Revelations
- Turnovers proved to be the biggest culprit for the Mavericks as they finished the game with 16 turnovers and it lead to 25 points for the Nuggets. Again, the issue spread across the team as eight Mavs turned the ball over. Rodrigue Beaubois, Jason Terry and J.J. Barea each had four turnovers. The turnovers were a huge factor in the first half as the Nuggets were able to push the tempo and take advantage of the turnovers.
- J.J. Barea did a solid job facilitating the ball as he finished the game with 10 assists. He recorded his third double-double of the season as he added 12 points. Barea had two double-doubles in first 308 career games. He's had two double-double in last three games. The Mavericks fell to 13-3 when Barea hands out six-plus assists in a game this season.
- Jason Kidd's absence could be seen early in the game as the Mavericks struggled to score and looked discombobulated in the first quarter. The Mavericks shot 8-25 in the first quarter and scored 17 points. Dallas finished the game scoring 96 points. The team has been held to under 100 points in six of their last seven games, after they hit the century mark in 24 of their previous 28 contests. They moved to 13-21 when they score under 100 points (40-4 when they reach the century mark this season).
- As noted earlier, Brendan Haywood did a tremendous job filling in for Tyson Chandler as he had his second straight game with at least 10 rebounds. He finished the game with 19 rebounds, marking a new season-high. He had 17 rebounds against the Philadelphia 76ers on 11/12.
- In the battle of teams in double figures, both teams had five players score in double figures. The difference was that the Nuggets only used eight players during the game. The Mavs are now 33-8 when five-plus players score in double figures.
If You Don't Like What I Said, Read What They Said
- Rick Carlisle on what lost the game, "Turnovers killed us, obviously. 17 turnovers for 25 points is a game-losing number. I love the way we battled to 94-all, but I didn't like the way we gave up eight or 10 straight, whatever that number was."
- Rick Carlisle on Corey Brewer's game, "I love the points, but I love the energy more. You talk about a guy staying ready and taking advantage of an opportunity - I thought Brewer played terrific tonight."
- Dirk Nowitzki on the shooting woes for the team, "We haven't really been shooting the ball well, that's been one of our strengths all season long."
- Brendan Haywood on his season-high rebounding performance, "I would've been more impressed if we got the win."
- Rick Carlisle on stacking up against playoff teams as the season ends, "Right now, with our team, we're not about measuring sticks. It's about getting our physical and mental disposition where it needs to be and move forward feeling like we're making progress."
BG's Baller of the Game:
Baller status has been granted to Shawn Marion. The forward made his 23rd start of the season against Denver on Wednesday. He led the Mavericks with 11 points before halftime and finished the game with a team-high 21 points. It marked his third straight game leading the Mavs in scoring (20.3 points averaged in his last three games). Outside of Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler, Shawn Marion has been the most consistent Maverick over the course of the season.
The Mavericks will hit the practice court on Thursday in preparation for their game against Los Angeles Clippers. Dallas won nine straight against the Clippers, including 15 of the last 16 meetings. The Mavericks have taken the last eight match-ups in Dallas, including a 112-105 decision at American Airlines Center on Jan. 25. They have won 26 of their last 31 games against the Clippers at home. The game between the Mavericks and the Clippers on Friday will tip off at 7:30 pm CST.
You can stay connected with all things @BallinWithBryanby following Bryan Gutierrez on twitter