);
Denver Nuggets

Nikola Jokic's game-winner gives Denver Nuggets a hard-fought win against Luka Doncic and the Mavericks in Dallas

The Denver Nuggets only led this game for approximately three minutes but what mattered more is that they were up at the most important time of the game - when the final buzzer sounded.

Coming out of a timeout with 23.2 seconds to go, down 105-106, Nikola Jokic buried what would eventually be the game-winner.

The Nuggets then backed up their superstar's game-winning play with some spectacular defence over the remaining 7.9 seconds. The win capped off a five-game road trip for the Nuggets, one that they finished with a 3-2 record.

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Here are the takeaways from a competitive contest in Dallas:

Jokic's big game

A couple of days after he dropped a career-high 47 in Atlanta, Jokic backed that up with 33 points (12-20 FG's) in 31 minutes which included a 21-point third quarter.

Playing the entire third, Jokic scored or assisted on 26 of the team's 30 points in the period. Here's a look at his shot chart where he shot 8-of-11 from the field.

He also finished with seven assists and six rebounds as he knocked down the third game-winning shot of this season and sixth since last season, the most in the league.

Nuggets' defence forces Luka into relatively off-game

Luka Doncic finished one rebound shy of a 27-point triple-double (10 assists) in 37 minutes of play.

Given the high standard of play he has set for himself - 20-game streak with at least 20 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and his league-leading tally of 30-point triple-doubles - Doncic had a relative off-game against the Nuggets.

He finished with nearly half of the team's 13 turnovers - 6. He also had a relatively off shooting night from the field (11-of-24) and from beyond the arc (1-of-7), courtesy of some great defense by the Nuggets.

Adding to that, he failed to score a single point in the all-important fourth quarter.

The road ahead

After a solid road trip, the Nuggets can look forward to a favourable five-game schedule ahead.

The Nuggets play four of their next five games at home, in their higher altitude Pepsi Center. Three of the five games are against teams with a losing record in the Charlotte Hornets, Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Golden State Warriors.

The other two are against the LA Clippers, who have won consecutive games just once since Dec. 15, and the Indiana Pacers, who have struggled on the road with an 8-10 record and have lost seven of their last 10.

On the other hand, the Mavericks next host the Los Angeles Lakers and the Philadelphia 76ers before then going on the road to San Francisco and Sacramento.

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