Another day, another loss to a West playoff team for the Mavericks. Winless in their last eight and ten of 11 against the top eight in their conference, Dallas welcomed the Denver Nuggets to town by resting starters Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler to prepare for the fast approaching playoffs, and it showed. The Nuggets led by six after a quarter and ten at the half, before the Mavericks tightened the game in the third. A mid-fourth quarter run stretched the Denver lead back to double digits, before Dallas raced back to tie the game at 94. It was all Nuggets from there, as they scored the next ten points and sealed the deal.
There were some notable lines for the Mavericks, as Shawn Marion posted a 21-10 (10-14 from the field) double-double, and Brendan Haywood pulled down 19 boards. Dirk Nowitzki added 20, but the Mavericks starters never were able to gain control of the game. J.R. Smith did his usual damage against Dallas, hitting for 23 on 9-14 shooting in just 28 minutes off of the bench.
The loss, coupled with Oklahoma City’s 112-108 victory over the LA Clippers, tightened Dallas’ lead for the three seed to just one game. Both teams are back in action Friday, as the Thunder host these Nuggets – their current projected first round opponent – and the Clippers will be in Dallas.