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3 observations following the Dallas Mavericks loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, 112-109

A four game winning streak snapped on the road.

Dallas Mavericks v Milwaukee Bucks

The Mavericks fell to the Milwaukee Bucks Friday night 112-109, snapping a four game winning streak. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 31 points and nine rebounds. Luka Doncic posted a near triple double in defeat with 28 points, nine rebounds, and 13 assists.

Dallas got off to a sloppy start in the first quarter, committing five turnovers (all by Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis) and shooting the ball very poorly. The Bucks kept the pressure on, with repeated drives to the rim and led after one, 30-23.

Things appeared poised to get totally out of hand in the second quarter, with Milwaukee taking a 14 point lead just four minutes into the frame. Yet a hodge-podge group led by rookies Josh Green and Tyrell Terry managed to stem the tide and chip into the lead some. When Doncic checked back into the game with four minutes in the quarter, Dallas was down nine and cut the lead all the way down to two. But a sloppy end on offense, bad defense, and horrendous reffing allowed the Bucks to rebuild an eight point lead at the half. Dallas trailed 55-47 after 24 minutes of basketball.

Dallas quickly erased the mishaps to start the third quarter yet for every two steps they took forward, they managed to take one step back. The Mavericks repeatedly cut the Bucks lead to one point or one possession then would miss a shot or a free throw and Milwaukee would march down and score. Rebounding was a problem for Dallas during the period, as Bucks reserve Bobby Portis ate Dallas alive on the offensive glass. The Mavericks trailed 84-81 after three quarters.

The Mavericks fought and fought but simply could not take a lead throughout the fourth. Finally, with 3:09 Dallas took a 104-103 lead on a James Johnson corner three. They led for just 40 seconds as Khris Middleton buried a contested three then followed up with another three following a terrible Trey Burke floater. They had a pair of chances to tie or take the lead in the final 30 seconds but could not connect. Following an attempt to make the game a free throw contest, the Mavericks fell 112-109.

Some thoughts additional thoughts

No time out?

Rick Carlisle has a well earned penchant for being overly controlling and yet in a broken play situation following a brick of a three from Trey Burke and an offensive rebound from Willie Cauley-Stein, he elected to let his guys sort it out. The end result was a long wing three from Porzingis which was a good look but a terrible shot.

Let me state that again: the look was good. Porzingis was open and he’s a heck of a shooter. But that he managed to shoot it over the rim is horrible. As was Luka Doncic just standing there the whole time and his pouting after the fact. I get why he was mad, the whole series of events is pretty baffling, but he’s the leader and shouldn’t do that sort of thing. I’ll bet in the post game he’ll make comments to that effect.

Dallas is pretty dang deep

This loss is pretty frustrating in the moment because they should’ve won. Between missed free throws and offensive rebounds by the Bucks, had Dallas made one or two less mistakes I’d be crowing about a clutch win.

Taking the long view, it’s pretty incredible the Mavericks played a team with title aspirations that competitively missing five rotation players (or four if you want Dwight Powell sent to Mars). It’s easy to imagine Josh Richardson, Jalen Brunson, Dorian Finney-Smith, or Maxi Kleber doing something positive in that game which would’ve pushed the Mavericks over the top.

Instead the back end of the bench stepped up in many ways throughout the game. Cauley-Stein looked shook early and recovered well to play a great game. Josh Green looks like a chicken with his head cut off but by golly he plays hard and was responsible for a key steal which led to a Tyrell Terry lay-in. James Johnson looked great against Giannis. The positives drawn from this game are lengthy.

Kristaps Porzingis was all over the map

This is going to feel overly critical of Porzingis but I don’t think he played a bad game, just very uneven. At one point in the contest he was 2-of-12 from the floor (perhaps even 2-of-14?) and then got into a great rhythm to start the fourth where he hit a number of excellent face-up shots to keep Dallas in the game. He finished with 10 rebounds, but there were numerous chances at rebounds where he ball watched. He committed offensive basket interference on a Josh Green shot that was going to fall. He missed the aforementioned big three which would’ve given Dallas a lead.

It’s his second game back though. He’s moving pretty well.

On to the next one, Sunday afternoon.

Podcast coming shortly.

Here’s the postgame podcast, Mavs Moneyball After Dark. If you can’t see the embed below “More from Mavs Moneyball”, click here. And if you haven’t yet, subscribe by searching “Mavs Moneyball podcast” into your favorite podcast app.