You would have to go pretty far down the list before getting to the Denver Nuggets in a pool of teams most likely to give the Dallas Mavericks their first home loss, but that was exactly the case on Monday night, as the Nuggets went on the road and pulled away in a 110-96 victory.
Denver famously struggled earlier in the season, starting with an 0-3 mark under new head coach Brian Shaw, but since then, the Nuggets have shed their label of inability to win on the road, and now hold a 7-6 record after this 14-point win. JJ Hickson led five members of the Nuggets in double-figures with 22 points, and Nate Robinson pulsed a late run by Denver with 11 of his 17 points (scored consecutively) in the 4th quarter to put the game away.
On the Dallas side, it was simply a case of being unable to slow down a suddenly dynamic Denver offense. The Nuggets shot nearly 55% from the field and 40% from 3-point distance, and not even a balanced offensive attack (all 5 starters in double figures) from the Mavs could offset their defensive issues. Coming into the night, Dallas was 7-0 and dominant at home, and with Denver entering the game just 1-4 on the road, this is a bit of a shocking result.
It would be presumptuous to assume that Denver was suddenly a juggernaut on the road and/or Dallas was susceptible in their home building based on this game, but it does provide some evidence that Denver could be a much better team than we originally imagined. For Dallas, this is likely a simple case of “one of those nights”, but look for Rick Carlisle and company to emphasize defense in a big way this week.