Kyrie Irving buries buzzer beater after Luka Doncic clutch 3 to erase Nuggets’ comeback

DALLAS — In a make-or-miss league, the Nuggets missed too often and the Mavericks made the only two shots anyone will remember: the last two.

Kyrie Irving's running left-hander at the buzzer lifts Mavs over Nuggets  107-105 - Newsday

Luka Doncic tied it with a 3-pointer with 24 seconds remaining, and Kyrie Irving buried a left-handed miracle shot over Nikola Jokic’s contest at the buzzer to hand Denver a 107-105 loss Sunday afternoon.

The Nuggets (47-21) erased a 13-point deficit in the last seven minutes and briefly led 105-102 after Jamal Murray drained a three with 26 seconds left. But Dallas scored on sideline out-of-bounds plays after using Jason Kidd’s last two timeouts, and Murray missed a jumper from the elbow with 2.8 seconds left that set up Irving’s finale. The Nuggets fell a half-game behind Oklahoma City for the Western Conference lead with 14 games to go and a trip to Minnesota looming Tuesday.

“Hell of a shot by Kyrie. Give him all the credit,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “… If a guy’s gonna beat us making a left-handed, off-handed hook shot from the elbow, yes I did (like Denver’s defense).”

Malone was more preoccupied with a glaring stat. Sitting in the front row of American Airlines Center next to ABC’s broadcast table was Texas Tech alum Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs quarterback who, the narrative goes, shouldn’t have been given the second chance to score in Super Bowl overtime. The defending NFL champion had a close-up view as the defending NBA champions gave up a mountain of second chances.

Dallas won 21-6 on the offensive glass and outscored Denver 23-6 on second chances. The overall rebounding gap was 59-37.

“I guess it was a fluke day,” Malone said. “I can’t remember the last time we got out-rebounded by 22.”

Two minutes into the fourth quarter as the Nuggets were trying to conjure more second-unit magic, Doncic clanked a 3-pointer but chased down his own rebound in mid-air behind the baseline, chucking it off an unsuspecting opponent then out of bounds. Dallas missed two more shots during the possession before finally scoring a fourth-chance put-back. Malone responded with a rage timeout, shouting at his team to get a (bleeping) rebound. The deficit was 88-79.

Five Mavericks players had three or more offensive boards. Doncic scored 37 points on 27 shots.

“They have personnel to do that. They’re really tall and long, and they attack the glass,” Jokic said. “You have Luka, who is like 6-7, 6-8, I don’t know, as a point guard. … We are not really a big team, especially our guys from the bench.”

Michael Porter Jr. buoyed the Nuggets for most of the day with 20 points, seven rebounds, a pair of steals and a pair of blocks. Until clutch time, Jokic and Murray had rare coinciding duds, especially from a shot-making standpoint. They combined for 39 points on 13-of-36 shooting from the field.

“They can switch a couple guys on us, and we didn’t respond,” Jokic said.

They were 4-for-18 for 17 points at halftime — Jokic had two baskets and three turnovers — but Denver led 61-58 anyway. Not a team that usually excels by getting to the foul line, the Nuggets attempted 18 free throws in the half, nearly reaching their per-game average (19.9) for the season.

They only attempted four more free throws in the second half.

Jokic backed down Doncic for a game-tying basket with 1:06 remaining, but his 6-for-16 clip marked only his second game shooting worse than 40% in the 2024 calendar year.

In a game of playoff-caliber physicality, especially from the Mavericks’ post defenders, Malone made a point to stand up for Jokic late in the first quarter by parading across the floor to earn a technical foul right in front of Dirk Nowitzki’s court-side seats. Reggie Jackson was handed a matching technical. Throughout the second, the pendulum swung, and Dallas grew increasingly frustrated with calls. Derek Lively II got his third foul before halftime.

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