The Mavs got things off tonight on a very ugly foot, scoring just 39 points in the first half and trailing by 16 points going into halftime. No one but Devin Harris was able to contribute much for two quarters, and the Bucks suddenly looked like the team everyone expected them to be before we all realized how much we'd been underrating Zaza Pachulia. Khris Middleton in particular seemed to get everything that he wanted offensively.
Rick Carlisle must've worked his magic or perhaps threatened the loved ones of the starters during halftime because they began the second half with a 7-0 run. Dallas outscored the Bucks by 12 in the third and pulled within three at one point. The Bucks managed to pull away again a bit in the fourth, but the Mavs kept chipping away and tied the game with two minutes left. Milwaukee missed several late free-throw attempts, helping to keep Dallas in the game.
With Milwaukee up one, Dirk drew a shooting foul and made both free throws to give the Mavs the lead with seconds to go. A moving screen by Giannis Antetokounmpo gave the Mavs the ball for what could've been the final possession, but one final turnover found its way into the hands of Khris Middleton, who gave the Bucks the lead for good.
Maybe that was a little *too* much rest...
A little rest is well-deserved after double overtime, but most of the Mavs' starters haven't played since Tuesday night's win over Sacramento and they seemed to have forgotten an awful lot about basketball in that time.
The first half of this game was a total mess with a weird box score. The Mavs, who average 13 turnovers a game, turned the ball over nine times in the first half. Milwaukee also had nine turnovers in that period, but the Bucks were able to capitalize on Dallas' mistakes, turning those nine turnovers into 15 points. And things looked even worse in real time; several of the turnovers were of the totally unforced, throw-the-ball-into-the-stands variety.
Milwaukee has one of the worst defenses in the league, but the Mavericks couldn't buy a bucket. They scored just 18 points in the first quarter and 39 in the first half. The one thing the Mavs did well during the first half was pull down offensive rebounds, earning 11 of them in the first half (out of 21 rebounds total), with Zaza alone grabbing five.
Dallas looked old tonight
Dallas isn't the oldest team in the league (Memphis and San Antonio are older) but the team's average player is pushing 30, and that seemed really obvious tonight. The Bucks aren't good, but they're a young team (second youngest in the league) bursting with potential and that was on full display in the first half, which they at times seemed to be spending just hovering in the paint above the rim while Dallas looked on, tired and earthbound.
Aside from points off turnovers, one of the most frustrating aspects of this game was the ability of the Bucks to get into the paint and score at will. The Bucks had 18 points in the paint in the first quarter alone and ended the evening with 56, compared to 32 from the Mavericks.
The perks of backup point guard by committee
While none of Felton, Harris, or Barea is a star in his own right, odds are decent that one of them is going to be having a decent night. While this may not the best use of roster space, it has at times been a stabilizing presence in rough games, even if it's not always enough to get the win.
Tonight was Harris' night. He led the Mavericks with 19 points on 7-12 shooting (3-7 from deep) and turned the ball over just once.