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6:00 PM PT7:00 PM MT8:00 PM CT9:00 PM ET2:00 GMT10:00 7:00 PM MST9:00 PM EST6:00 UAE (+1)03:0021:00 ET8:00 PM CTNaN:� , December 18, 2018
Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado  Attendance: 15,764

Nuggets to be put to test vs. surprising Mavs

According to STATS
According to STATS

Dallas Mavericks at Denver Nuggets

  1. The Mavericks have lost two in a row following a stretch of eight wins in 10 games. Dallas averaged 111.6 points in those 10 previous games but has been held to an average of 101.0 points in its last two games.
  2. Luka Doncic leads rookies in minutes (32.4), points (18.2) and made three-pointers (2.1) per game (played in min. 70 percent team games). Only three rookies all-time have finished averaging 18.0+ points and 2.0+ 3PM in a season: Donovan Mitchell (2017-18), Damian Lillard (2012-13) and Allen Iverson (1996-97).
  3. The Nuggets have won three games in a row after losing both games of a back-to-back to Charlotte and Atlanta on December 7 and 8. Denver has held all three opponents under 100 points during this win streak and leads the NBA with 13 such games this season.
  4. Jamal Murray outscored the Raptors, 15-14, in the fourth quarter of Denver's victory over Toronto on Sunday. He became the first Nugget to outscore an opponent in any quarter since Emmanuel Mudiay (24-23 vs. Bos on 11/6/2016), and the first to do so in a fourth quarter since J.R. Smith (23-19 vs. Sac on 4/13/2009).
  5. The Mavericks and Nuggets split four games last season with each team winning twice at home. Dallas has lost four straight games in Denver, averaging 96.3 points in those games to Denver's 105.8.
  6. Denver ranks second in rebound margin per game at 5.8 while Dallas ranks fifth at 3.5. The Nuggets have gone 15-4 (.789) when winning the rebound battle while the Mavericks have gone 11-5 (.688) in such games.

The Denver Nuggets have proven their mettle against the top team in the Eastern Conference and some of the best in the West.

Now they put their top seed in the Western Conference on the line against one of the surprise teams in the NBA.

The Dallas Mavericks are in town for a Tuesday night matchup, and despite having lost two in a row they are in contention in the ho-hum Southwest Division. Dallas (15-13) is a half-game behind first-place Memphis heading into Monday's schedule.

One of the big factors for Dallas turning things around is the arrival of teen sensation Luka Doncic, whom the team acquired in a draft-day trade back in June. Doncic is the heir apparent to veteran Dirk Nowitzki and he has lived up to the hype 28 games into his rookie year.

Doncic, like Nowitzki, is a special player coming out of Europe at a young age. The 19-year-old Slovenian leads the Mavericks in scoring at 18.2 per game and is coming off a 28-point, nine-assist game in a loss to Sacramento on Sunday night.

He also got to play with the 40-year-old Nowitzki, who made his season debut against Phoenix on Thursday night after missing the first 26 games recovering from left ankle surgery. He has played just six and eight minutes, respectively, in his first two games.

Nowitzki is in the twilight of his career and he's helping his young teammates even when he has been sidelined.

"Off the court, he's been great. I've learned a lot," rookie Jalen Brunson told the Dallas Morning News. "To see the type of effect he brings on the court is amazing. He came in and made that shot off the glass like he was in a rhythm. He just knows what to do with the ball."

Nowitzki most likely won't see much playing time against the surging Nuggets, who have won two straight and eight of their last 10 despite having a depleted lineup. Opening night starters Paul Millsap (broken toe), Gary Harris (hip) and Will Barton (core muscle surgery) are all out, but Barton could be back in the next two weeks.

Denver (20-9) has dug deep into its bench to fill the holes, and the players have responded.

"Everybody is being aggressive, taking shots, nobody is complaining," backup point guard Monte Morris said after Sunday's 95-86 win over Toronto, the top team in the East. "We've got the ball moving and we're having fun."

The Nuggets have relied on center Nikola Jokic and guard Jamal Murray to lead the way and they have responded. Jokic leads the team in points (17.7), rebounds (9.9), assists (7.5) and steals (1.4), and Murray is averaging 17.5 points and 14.7 assists.

Forward Juancho Hernangomez, a third-year forward out of Spain, has logged major minutes with the injuries and Morris has also played well behind Murray.

Dallas could be without two of its guards. J.J. Barea has missed two straight games with a left ankle sprain and Dennis Smith Jr. has a sore right wrist that has kept him out of three of the last four.

Updated December 17, 2018

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