01/13/2009 Mavericks @ Denver
Mavericks Show Fight, But Not Enough; Fall to Nuggets
The Dallas Mavericks arrived in Denver focused on salvaging what has been a less-than-stellar road trip. The Mavericks were handily defeated by the Phoenix Suns on Friday and outhustled by the Sacramento Kings on Sunday. However, a win over the Chauncey Billups-led Denver Nuggets would have been a huge feather in the Dallas cap. It did not happen.
The disappointing loss was not for lack of effort. The Mavericks fought back from a 17-point second half deficit to put themselves in a position to win the game. Dallas was led once again by All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki. Nowitzki poured in 44 points in the loss. The total was just 2 points shy of his season high – a 46-point effort against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Nowitzki has not been up to par lately and has struggled mightily over the last three games. He busted out of that slump with authority against the Nuggets scoring more than double his best effort in recent games (19 points vs. New York on 1/8/09).
Unfortunately, Nowitzki did not get much help in the scoring department. Through three quarters of play, Nowitzki has already registered a 30-point night, while none of his teammates had yet to reach double figures. In the end, Jason Terry did his best and showed up in the fourth quarter – as he has a tendency to do – and hit big shots to finish with 16 points off the bench.
Facing a 17-point deficit just minutes into the second half, Dallas mounted a furious comeback and went on a 20-4 to pull within a point. The momentum was ripped from the Mavericks grasp when Nugget forward Chris Andersen stole the inbounds pass and fired a dagger from half court to end the third quarter. The shot deflated the Mavericks and helped Denver regain its footing.
The fourth quarter was a close contest with the Mavericks finally taking their first lead of the second half at 93-91 on a Terry three-pointer. The finals minutes were a battle with the deciding factor coming in the form of two Chauncey Billups free throws with the score tied 97-97 and :02 seconds remaining. Billups missed a 16-foot jump shot and the game appeared to be heading into overtime until Jason Terry was called for his fifth foul of the contest. Billups, a 90 percent career free throw shooter, knocked down both foul shots to give the Nuggets a 99-97 lead and the win.
“This is a disappointing loss, but I am not disappointed in this team,” Head Coach Rick Carlisle said. “We fought to get back in this game. We did a lot of good things. Dirk looked great, Jason (Terry) hit some big shots and everyone who played contributed in a positive way.”
With the 0-3 road swing, the Mavericks fall to 22-16 on the season after being nine game over .500 when they left Dallas. They will now try to protect their homecourt against the New Orleans Hornets tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. CT. The Mavericks/Hornets matchup can be seen on TXA-21 and HDNet.