Nikola Jokic scored 29 points and grabbed 18 rebounds to lead the Denver Nuggets to a gritty 105-102 victory over the determined Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
The Nuggets led by as many as 23 points but were extended to the final minutes by a stubborn Dallas team that rallied to within 101-97 on a jumper by Yogi Ferrell with 1:27 to play. Will Barton then made a cutting layup off a Jokic assist to push Denver’s lead to six points.
Dennis Smith Jr.’s jumper with 44.3 seconds to play brought Dallas to within 103-99 and his three-point play with 10.4 seconds left cut the Denver lead to one point. Two free throws by Gary Harris with 1.7 seconds remaining expanded the Nuggets’ advantage and a wild Dallas shot at the end of the game was not close.
Harris and Barton added 25 and 22 points, respectively, for Denver, which has now won two of its past three games after losing three straight outings. The Nuggets outrebounded Dallas 47-35 with a 15-5 edge on the offensive glass making up most of the difference.
Smith led Dallas with 25 points. Harrison Barnes added 17 points, Devin Harris hit for 16 off the bench, Ferrell had 13 points, and Wesley Matthews scored 10 points for the Mavericks, who lost their second consecutive game.
Jokic scored 20 points in the first half - including a tip-in of his own missed shot at the buzzer to end the second quarter - to help the Nuggets to a 61-48 lead at intermission. He also grabbed his sixth, seventh and eighth offensive rebounds of the half in the final few seconds and had 11 overall boards at halftime.
Harris had 14 points and Barton scored 12 for the Nuggets over the first 24 minutes of play.
Smith paced the Mavericks with 12 points in the half and Barnes added 10 for Dallas, which led by as many as seven points early in the game.
Harris and Barton did most of the heavy lifting for Denver in the third quarter as the Nuggets expanded their lead to 86-69 heading to the final 12 minutes of play.
Denver heads to Los Angeles for a game against the Clippers on Wednesday. Dallas plays at Portland on Saturday.
—Field Level Media