DALLAS — They kept giving, so Danilo Gallinari kept taking.
The Denver Nuggets forward scored a career-high 39 points and tied a career-high with seven 3-pointers, a feat he’d accomplished just once before on Oct. 28, 2009, with the New York Knicks. Gallinari put up 11 high-arching bombs from beyond the arc in Friday’s 106-85 rout of the reeling Dallas Mavericks simply because, well, no one really stepped out to guard him.
Afterward, Gallinari acknowledged as much, and as any proper house guest should, he politely thanked the Mavs for their hospitality.
“I was open and I shoot it,” the Italian-born Gallinari said. “So, I got to thank the defense they prepared on me for leaving me open for the 3.”
The Nuggets led by as many as 15 in the first half, but with the Mavs coming on and down only 50-47, Gallinari went to work in the final 5.6 seconds. He buried a 3 and then, after Andre Miller picked off a pass, Gallinari left the Mavs flat-footed at the rim. He threw down Ty Lawson‘s missed 3 at the buzzer for a momentum-changing 5-point swing to give him 15 points and the Nuggets a 55-47 halftime lead.
Then, he opened the third quarter with his fourth 3-pointer and the demolition was on. He and Andre Iguodala went a combined 11-for-17 from beyond the arc while slumping Dallas, losers of five in a row and eight of nine, was just 5-for-25.
“It’s not pretty right now,” said Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki, who had rough night, going 2-for-10 from the floor for five points in his third game back from October knee surgery. “On the defensive end, our coverages get blown left and right and the other team makes us pay.”
Gallinari was 14-for-23 overall and also had eight rebounds, three assists and just one turnover in 34 minutes.
“He should [have] got 40 [points],” said Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried, who contributed a massive effort with 11 points and 19 rebounds. “That was a phenomenal performance.”
Gallinari, 24, blew away his season-high of 28 a little more than a week ago in a win over the Spurs. He came into Friday’s game not having made more than four 3s in a game this season, and he was shooting the 3-ball at just a 31.7-percent clip. He had made nine 3s in his last five games.
“My teammates were really finding me tonight and I’m glad I was making my shots,” Gallinari said. “Tonight was one of those games where after you release the ball you think that it’s going in.”
And they pretty much did.