The Denver Nuggets haven’t lost a home game in a month but are about to kick off a six-game road trip without the help of their best player, center Nikola Jokic. The Nuggets, who expected to be without Jokic for several games due to a sprained ankle, will begin the trip by visiting the Dallas Mavericks on Monday.
Denver is 10-2 at home but just 3-7 on the road, and coach Michael Malone is open to trying a few unconventional tactics to get his players believing they can win away from home. “We’re gonna turn the lights off in the locker room before the game,” Malone told the Denver Post. “... I’ve got a guy to come with us that’s gonna (say), ‘You’re getting sleepy,’ and we’ll see if it works in Dallas.” The Mavericks pounded the Los Angeles Clippers 108-82 on Saturday to earn coach Rick Carlisle his 700th career win. “I really wasn’t counting, to tell you the truth,” Carlisle told reporters. “It just means that I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve had three great owners and great players. But we’ve got a long way to go, and I’ve really never been one to count that kind of stuff.”
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, Altitude (Denver), FS Southwest (Dallas)
ABOUT THE NUGGETS (13-9): Denver is heading out with some momentum after winning a pair at home and scored the final 15 points on Saturday to earn a 115-100 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. “We just locked in,” guard Jamal Murray, who touched off some pushing and shoving in the final seconds by dribbling around Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball with the clock ticking down, told reporters. “We played together the whole night. Coach talked about it on the bench that we’ve got to make plays down the stretch on defense, and it didn’t take us long to turn that around. We got together quick and came through as a unit together.” Murray scored 28 points in the win to bounce back from a five-point performance on 1-of-9 shooting against Chicago on Thursday.
ABOUT THE MAVERICKS (6-17): Dallas is trying to clinch a winning three-game homestand after falling to the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday and blasting the Clippers on Saturday. Veteran point guard J.J. Barea led the way with 21 points and 10 assists against Los Angeles and is averaging 13.2 points and 7.3 assists in the six wins. “I was able to come off the bench with a lot of energy and help the team out,” Barea told reporters. “Everything was clicking from passing to shooting the ball from the outside, so it was great. It was great to be out there and to get this win. We needed it after a bad loss last time, so hopefully we carry this over.”
1. Nuggets SF Wilson Chandler (back) missed the last three games and is day-to-day.
2. Dallas C Nerlens Noel (thumb) sat out the last three games and is questionable for Monday.
3. Denver took three of four in the series last season, winning by an average of 17 points.
PREDICTION: Nuggets 110, Mavericks 107