If you're the Denver Nuggets and you're trailing the Dallas Mavericks, winners of 10 straight, by a point, and you're at home, and you have just seconds to get off a shot, you want defensive specialist Arron Afflalo taking a leaning 21-footer at the buzzer. That's a play you have to call.
Afflalo nailed the deep jumper to slay the mighty-again Mavericks 121-120 and give the Nuggets a huge and deeply needed win. The Nuggets had lost two straight to non-playoff teams (Houston, Golden State). With the Utah Jazz neck-and-neck, and the Portland Trail Blazers, Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns charging hard, Denver needs win as frequently as possible. (Captain Obvious, to the rescue!) If the Nuggets are indeed willing to keep Carmelo Anthony past the trade deadline, they need to prove to themselves they can compete. Beating the Mavericks? That qualifies, even if it happened on a prayer.
Denver got huge scoring output from 'Melo (42 points in 42 minutes before fouling out), Chauncey Billups (30 points, 15 of them from behind the arc) and Afflalo (24 in all, including four three-pointers). Dallas' vaunted defense was completely invisible, except perhaps in the paint, where Tyson Chandler did a good job limiting Nene. But no one Dallas threw at 'Melo or Billups had any luck whatsoever. As it turns out, Peja Stojakovic isn't the solution at small forward!
The Mavericks, of course, scored at will, too. The points didn't come from Dirk Nowitzki, who had 16. Jason Terry was the top Dallas scorer with 25 off the bench, and Chandler scored 20, Shawn Marion added 19 and Jose Barea continued his hot streak with 17.