At the beginning of 2021, a trip to Denver took the Mavericks on a downward spiral due to the NBA's COVID-19 related 'health and safety protocols'.
Starters in Josh Richardson and Dorian Finney-Smith were forced to stay behind, missing nine games, while reserve Jalen Brunson was forced to sit out four games due to contact tracing. Although they won that game in overtime, the Mavericks went on a 4-9 stretch after that, including a six-game losing streak.
This time, however, more than two months later on Saturday, March 13 (ET), Dallas were surging and more importantly healthy. Their depth and momentum helped them record a comfortable 116-103 win, only the second Nuggets-Mavericks game decided by double-digits since Doncic was drafted.
Five Mavericks, three of which were those impacted by the previous trip to Denver, scored in double figures led by Kristaps Porzingis' 25 points on 11-of-15 shooting.
KRISTAPS FROM THE LOGO 😳@dallasmavs | #MFFL pic.twitter.com/DmwJNIYiAl- FOX Sports Southwest (@FOXSportsSW) March 14, 2021
The trio of Richardson, Finney-Smith, and Brunson all scored in double-digit scorers. They combined for 43 points as Richardson and Brunson also recorded four rebounds and four assists each.
"Nobody's talking about it, but Josh Richardson has really stepped out defensively the past couple of weeks," Rick Carlisle said postgame.
Defence was why Mavericks traded for him but Richardson is also stepping up offensively as this was his first instance of consecutive 20-point games this season.
Josh Richardson stays focused. 😅 @J_Rich1: 20 PTS, 4-5 3PM, @dallasmavs W pic.twitter.com/5nLBNLNYX3- NBA (@NBA) March 14, 2021
"Oh, man, I don't want to go back to that hotel," Richardson talks postgame about the previous time he had to remain in Denver. "I'm just glad I get to leave it on time now."
This victory not only snaps the Nuggets' five-game win streak but is also the Mavericks' 12th win in their last 16 - second-best record in the league since Feb. 3 (ET).
Dallas separated themselves in the middle two quarters, outscoring Denver 65-44 with the trio of Porzingis (12), Doncic (10) and Richardson (12) scoring 34 of those 65 points.
For the Nuggets, their league MVP candidate Nikola Jokic put up stellar numbers once again - 26 points, 11 assists, and eight rebounds.
He received support from Michael Porter Jr. and Will Barton, who combined for 46 with 23 points apiece but the team couldn't really battle back from their largest deficit of 21 as Jamal Murray struggled for a second straight game, only finishing with 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting from the field.
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