Turnovers killed the Denver Nuggets in their 103-89 loss to the Dallas Mavericks. A lack of 3-point shooting also played a role.

Denver turned the ball over 26 times resulting in 28 Dallas points. The Nuggets only average 13 turnovers per game this season. Three-point shooting in the fourth quarter also gave the Mavericks an edge as they went 7 of 12 and turned a four-point lead into a 15-point lead with just over two minutes left in regulation. The Nuggets went 6 of 25 from long range and went 0 of 5 in the fourth quarter.

“Their defense was solid,” Nuggets assistant coach Popeye Jones said. “They were ready for us. They doubled Nikola in the post. We tried to talk about our spacing this morning and we never really got it right. We didn’t shoot enough threes. A lot of stuff happened.”

Jones will be acting head coach while four different coaches remain in health and safety protocols including Michael Malone and assistant David Adelman. Denver was also without starters Monte Morris and Jeff Green and key role player Zeke Nnaji due to health and safety protocols.

Bones Hyland is all too familiar with health and safety protocols himself having entered the protocol for the second time on Dec. 30. He was finally cleared early Monday morning 12 hours before the game.

“First I got a call around like 7:30 a.m.,” Hyland said. “I think it was either Dan (Shimensky, head athletic trainer) or if it was Steve Short (vice president of sports medicine). They said we got a flight on standby for you. Go test at the arena around like eight something. I had to test twice and then I had a flight around 1:30. I got to the airport around 11 something. Got on the flight. Car service picked me up and I came straight here. So this is the second time I did this so I’m getting really familiar with it.”

Hyland added that his legs felt heavy after having to quarantine for three straight days but he said that it took him about one full game to get back to normal before.

Jones had to play the rookie more than he wanted to because Austin Rivers suffered an injury. He said that he thought Hyland knew more of the playbook than he actually did. Hyland disagreed.

“I know the playbook,” Hyland said. “It’s just sometimes when you’re in different positions, sometimes I’m out there and I’m playing the three slot and they just go on the fly what the play call is but I really know it from the one and the two.”

He finished with seven points and six rebounds in 25 minutes.

Nikola Jokic put up 27 points and 16 rebounds. Aaron Gordon added 15 points on 7 of 9 shooting from the field but went 0 of 4 from the free throw line. Will Barton went 4 of 12 from the field for 12 points.

For the Mavericks, Luka Doncic had 21 points, eight rebounds, and 15 assists while Dwight Powell and Reggie Bullock scored 15 points apiece.

Denver struggled straight out the gate with seven turnovers in the first quarter. It shot 25 percent from both the 3-point and free throw line. Dallas shot 38 percent from long range and 83 percent from the charity stripe and took a 24-20 lead.

Shooting didn’t get much better for the Nuggets in the second quarter. They shot 33 percent from the field and 17 percent from three. The Mavericks didn’t do much better but managed to go on a 13-0 run with 9:55 left. Dallas outscored Denver 22-17 in the second to take a 46-37 lead at the half.

Jokic opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer and a layup to cut the Dallas lead to four.

Powell then hit back to back buckets to give the Mavericks a 54-45 lead. Later in the quarter, the Nuggets went on a 7-0 run to get to within six points and then a Barton 3-pointer made it 64-61 Dallas with 2:05 left. The Mavericks closed the quarter on a 5-2 run to take a 69-63 lead.

The Nuggets kept things close to open the fourth quarter getting to within four points but they struggled taking the lead. Dallas had an 89-80 advantage late in the quarter until Reggie Bullock and Jalen Brunson knocked down consecutive 3’s to take a 15-point lead. Jones called a timeout shortly after that and put his bench unit in to close the game.

Denver heads back home for two straight against the Jazz and Kings before hitting the road again for a pair of games. The Nuggets are currently 18-17 on the season and are fifth in the Western Conference standings. There is still no timetable for Jamal Murray who was seen windmill dunking on his Instagram a day ago and Michael Porter Jr. who was getting up some light shots before the Dallas game.