With the New Year approaching and a disappointing 2012 coming to a close, the Dallas Mavericks took on the Denver Nuggets Friday night at the American Airlines Center, as Dirk Nowitzki made his regular season home debut in just his third game back from knee surgery.
No longer contented with moral victories, the hungry Dallas Mavericks hoped to find an actual victory tonight at home, though the game saw the visiting team come out fast and furious. The Nuggets, among the NBA's leaders in second chance points, transition points, and points in the paint, would show off their prowess in all three phases early, jumping out to a quick 21-8 lead, and led 29-18 at the end of the first period. Kenneth Faried, known to fans of the NBA as "The Manimal", would assert his will early with a halftime double-double of 11 points and 14 rebounds.
In the second quarter, the good guys tried to scratch their way back in, thanks to the most welcome flash of "good O.J", who has developed a home/road split more commonly seen for members of the Texas Rangers. Mayo would hit his first four shots, and the Mavs would climb back to within two at 40-38. Dallas would stay within a one basket until the final minute, when Danilo Galinari, in a teaser of what was to come, would score five points in six seconds, on a three and putback dunk off an inbound steal and missed basket. Denver would stretch a three point lead to a more comfortable eight.
Galinari would start the third quarter with another three, giving him 18, and he wasn't done. After a pair of Iguodala threes, Galinari would add seven more in the quarter, en route to 39 for the night, and Denver would stretch the margin well into the double-digits. Dallas wouldn't simply roll over in this period, though, as Darren Collison would push the tempo and give the fast-paced Nuggets team a taste of their own medicine with transition layups off turnovers. Dallas would flirt with making it a real game, getting to within five once again, but Denver's three point barrage kept Dallas at bay.
Early in the fourth, Dallas would go cold, and Denver would provide the killing blow with yeoman's work on the offensive glass, and even more trifectas. They were 10-20 from distance at one point, and finished at 12-28 at the end. They added 20 fast break points, and 52 points in the paint, thanks to a whopping 17 offensive boards, which helped give them a 60-43 advantage on the glass overall. They would put in the scrubs with several minutes left, and the modest fourth quarter output of 19 points would bely the relentlessness of their full-throttle offensive attack. The final score would read 106-85 and Dallas would drop to a 12-18 record that, frankly, we fans haven't seen in the Dirk Nowitzki era.
- Not much positive to take away here. O.J Mayo started out hot, but was largely silent in the second half, finishing with 15 points and his once league-leading three point percentage dropping again with a 1-5 performance.
- Dirk still clearly doesn't have full confidence in being "the guy" for this team, but I don't think he played as bad as the 2-10 might suggest. He had a lot of shots go in and out, and was getting to the spots he normally likes to. Of course, the Mavs' offense is far from running smoothly.
- The three point shot really hurt Dallas, but it isn't hard to figure out where Denver truly punished the inferior Mavericks squad: 60-43 on the boards, leading to gobs of second chance points. Denver just ran it down Dallas' collective throat, too, with an offensive punch that is going to get better as the season goes on. I bet Denver catches fire at some point and rattles off a streak like the one the Clippers are on. They are big, fast, and can pass. Andre Miller is one of the best lob passers I've ever seen. Galinari's size as a small forward is a huge advantage, and they have an athletic frontcourt trio rotation with Koufos, McGee and Faried that just wears you out.
- Decent contribution from CDR, who looks like he's relishing his second crack at the NBA. His game is a little awkward, but effective enough. Dallas can use points from just about anyone.
- Brandan Wright also had a nice game as one of the few bright spots, after missing the last game. But he was a part of the problem at the defensive end with all the second chance points and interior baskets.
- Bleh. This one just sucked. I don't know what else to write at this point.