Denver Nuggets lose third straight game, 116-115 to Dallas Mavericks. Bruce Brown’s late three-pointer gave the Nuggets the lead, but Dorian Finney-Smith answered. Luka Doni, who had 22 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds, passed to Finney-Smith at the top of the key.
Finney-Smith missed two free throws with four seconds left, allowing the Nuggets to win. Jamal Murray’s buzzer-beating shot missed because the Nuggets didn’t have a timeout.
Aaron Gordon scored 27 points on 13 shots. He was great around the rim and made 3s. Bones Hyland scored 20 points in 30 minutes off the bench on 7-of-15 shooting and 5-of-10 from 3-point range. He added five assists. Joki added 19 points, 8 assists, and 8 rebounds.
The Nuggets had a shot to win, unlike their previous two losses. The Nuggets will meet the Portland Trail Blazers on the road on Thursday.
The Nuggets beat the Mavericks on Tuesday.
The Nuggets committed 17 turnovers on Tuesday, allowing the Mavericks to score 23 points. The Nuggets must defend the ball better to reduce turnovers. The Nuggets’ sloppy passes, dribbling into traffic, charges, and screening fouls cost them tonight.
Michael Malone said the defence has been inconsistent this season. We’ve encountered difficulties. Quarters, halves, games. It hasn’t been consistent enough to link stops.”
Gordon said Denver’s defensive intensity and urgency are most alarming during its three-game losing run.
Bones said, “We’re frustrated” about the defensive issues. We’re losing so many games. We’re losing games we should be winning, and we know we’re not competing every night.
Denver knows what’s wrong. Identifiable. The less glamorous end lacks nightly immediacy and intensity. It’s hard to play 82 games of great defence and be ready for the playoffs. For the Nuggets, “consistently solid” would do.
If the Nuggets want to win, they’ll focus on defence. They’re aware. Players understand. NBA knows it. When and if Denver will elevate their defensive energy against elite opponents are the only questions. Mavericks score 17 three-pointers, including the game-winner, to punish poor closeouts. Denver’s defence is excellent enough to make a good team work, but not good enough to win.
The Nuggets must improve.
Bones Hyland leads
Michael Malone and Bones Hyland chatted at length during today’s shootaround. Malone praised Hyland’s importance to the squad. Bones played 30 minutes off the bench, replacing Jamal Murray due to foul issues and offensive struggles. Bones had 20 points, five 3s, and five assists. In the fourth quarter, he made key plays on offence and defence, including a clutch three-pointer.
The defence overall remains difficult. Mavericks switched to Bones for Doncic and Dinwiddie tonight. Both guards are larger and heavier than Bones, so he had trouble defending without fouling. Weak side rotations enabled Tim Hardaway Jr. and Finney-Smith easy threes.
Bones’ offensive helps the Nuggets. His defence must improve. Malone must manage a second-year player delicately. The bench kept the game close against a powerful Mavericks second unit. Bones and the Nuggets bench could use this game to generate better, more consistent possessions.
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