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NBA: Mavericks get away with key defensive 3-second violation in OT win over Nuggets

Mark Cuban said the Mavericks’ home fans booing them as they fell behind the Nuggets on Friday sparked Dallas to a win over the Timberwolves yesterday.

It probably didn’t hurt that the Mavericks still beat Denver -- even if an officiating error aided the victory.

With Dallas down two points defending the Nuggets’ penultimate possession of regulation, Dirk Nowitzki camped out in the lane without guarding anyone. That should’ve been a violation with 43.6 seconds left, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:

Nowitzki (DAL) is in the paint without actively guarding an opponent for longer than three seconds.

A correct call would’ve sent Denver’s choice of anyone on the floor to the free-throw line for one shot. The Nuggets also would’ve retained the ball, and even if they would’ve still missed their field-goal attempt -- as was the case in reality -- they likely still would’ve let by three.

We can’t know what would’ve happened from there (or even whether Denver would’ve made its free throw), but it would’ve been much easier to defend Dallas on the other end. Not only would the Mavericks have had to make a longer shot to tie the game, the Nuggets would know that and defend the 3-point arc accordingly.

As it stood, Raymond Felton drove for a layup to send the game to overtime, where Dallas won.

The loss doesn’t hurt Denver, which is headed back to the lottery. But it means plenty to the Mavericks, who are battling the Grizzlies, Trail Blazers, Rockets and Jazz for playoff positioning