DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — The Dallas Mavericks didn’t really seem to get going until after a Denver Nuggets player was ejected for hitting Tim Hardaway Jr. in the groin… regardless, the press wasn’t enough for a win.

Michael Porter Jr. tied his season high with 30 points and the Nuggets overcame Jamal Murray’s ejection to beat the Mavericks 117-113 on Monday night.

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Porter was 6 of 10 from 3-point range, including a go-ahead bucket to start a decisive 7-0 run late in the fourth quarter after the Mavericks had rallied immediately following the incident involving Murray and Hardaway.

Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks and Jamal Murray #27 of the Denver Nuggets in the second quarter on January 25, 2021 in Dallas, Texas. (credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Luka Doncic had 35 points, 11 rebounds and a season-high 16 assists for his league-leading sixth triple-double. The Dallas star broke a tie for the NBA lead with Nikola Jokic, who had 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Nuggets.

The Nuggets improved to 3-0 on a five-game road trip with their fourth straight victory and are 7-2 since an overtime loss to the Mavericks in Denver. It was the third game in four days, and the first two went to overtime in Phoenix.

“This was character,” coach Mike Malone said. “Coming off two overtime games in Phoenix. And we found a away to get the win.”

Denver was setting up on offense early in the second half when Murray stumbled backward after colliding with Hardaway. Murray got up and reached between Hardaway’s legs with his right arm, prompting Hardaway to double over.

The official closest to the contact blew the whistle to stop play with 4:51 left in the third quarter and conferred with the other referees. The initial call was a foul on Murray, and it was upgraded to a flagrant-two foul on a video review.

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“I guess he was just frustrated that they didn’t call a foul,” Hardaway said. “I was just trying to do the best I can to deny the ball. The rest of it speaks for itself. It happens in a game. But it doesn’t even matter at this point. We lost.”

Malone said he asked crew chief Zach Zarba for an explanation, and Zarba told him the replay was “fairly obvious.”

“There was a lot of physicality between those two,” Malone said. “They came out very aggressive in the third quarter, which we knew they would. Hopefully it’s nothing more than Jamal getting ejected tonight and we can just use it as a learning experience.”

The Nuggets led 80-73 when the game was stopped, and Hardaway scored the next seven points in just 23 seconds to get the Mavericks even before they went on to take their first lead since early in the first quarter. Hardaway scored 16 of his 19 points in the third.

Denver scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter to go back in front before Dallas got even at 104 with five minutes remaining.

Doncic put the Mavericks ahead with a short jumper before Porter hit a 3 then had a dunk the next trip down. Another 3-pointer from Porter, who also had eight rebounds, put Denver up 114-107 with 41 seconds to go.

“I don’t think the ejection was something that fired us up,” Doncic said. “We continued to play, continued to fight for every possession. We’ve just got to be better on defense.”

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

CBSDFW.com Staff