The Dallas Mavericks won at home Thursday night, defeating the Milwaukee Bucks 116-101. The duo of Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic led Dallas with the former scoring 26 and grabbing 17 rebounds and the latter scoring 27, securing nine rebounds, and dishing nine assists. Donte DiVincenzo scored a team high 22 for the Bucks in defeat.
Facing a Milwaukee squad without Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Dallas Mavericks came out against the Bucks looking tired. Dallas was on the second night of a back to back, losing in Houston last night, and took a few minutes to look awake. After not seeing the ball in quarter four against the Rockets, Kristaps Porzingis got repeated early looks, scoring on three of six shots and a pair of free throws. Luka Doncic looked on his game early as well but a toe injury of some sort forced him out of the game briefly. The bench unit, usually potent, missed lots of open looks and gave up the lead. The Mavericks trailed after one quarter, 31-29.
The two teams played it tightly in the second, with Brook Lopez looking like prime Dirk Nowitzki and Donte DiVincenzo turning into Ray Allen. Despite bench stalwarts Tim Hardaway and Jalen Brunson struggling, the Mavericks stayed within range. A nifty Luka Doncic post up and kick out to Porzingis for three and a Porzingis offensive rebound late in the quarter made things interesting. And despite some very bad missed calls by the referees, two Doncic drives to end the half pulled the Mavericks within one. Dallas trailed at the half 56-55.
Things really started clicking in the third quarter with the Mavericks inching ahead again and again. But each time the Bucks would response. Dallas took an 80-72 lead with 1:58 in the quarter only to have Luka Doncic sub into the game and turn the ball over three times. Tim Hardaway added one of his own just before quarter’s end and Milwaukee scored 12 straight during the minutes. Dallas trailed 84-80 heading into the fourth.
For a time it felt like the gut punch the Mavericks endured to end the third might hangover them throughout the fourth. Then Dorian Finney-Smith broke the seal on his game long three point drought. Next Luka Doncic found Porzingis for a three pointer of his own. Then they pair connected again to take the lead. On the following offensive possession Porzingis grabbed an offensive board and slammed it down. From there, the game was all Dallas. A four point lead blew up to double digits and Dallas took the thing home. The Mavericks walk away with a 116-101 victory over Milwaukee.
Now, some thoughts
The closing statement
In my mind it’s been a while since the Dallas Mavericks entered the fourth down and proceeded to blow out an opponent. Dallas outscored the Bucks in the final frame, 36-17. The charge was led by Kristaps and his 11 points, a fitting performance after he saw the ball just once last night against the Rockets.
An under discussed aspect of last night’s loss was how little actual offense the Mavericks seemed to run late in the game against the Rockets, whereas tonight, they actually used their two best players... are you ready for this... at the same time. And it worked. Who could’ve guessed. More plays and more ball movement, less isolation, everyone will be happy.
There’s a ton of data on why offensive rebounding isn’t a thing anymore in the NBA, but hell if I understand any of it. When staring at the box score, the thing which jumps off the page to me is the six offensive rebounds from Kristaps Porzingis and the five from Dorian Finney-Smith. Watching Porzingis crash the boards infuses energy into his game that’s harder to come by when he’s the pop man on a pick and roll.
I’m sure there’s some game plan and opponent dependent stuff going on in terms of how often or willing Dallas is to attach the offensive glass, but if you go to the game logs for Porzingis and sort by his offensive rebounding, when he has 3 or more the Mavericks tend to win the last time I checked.
The Mavericks survived without their bench combo being a huge factor
Before the game, the Bally Sports broadcast had a segment on Jalen Brunson and Tim Hardaway and how effective they’ve been off the bench this season. Of course it would follow that the two would toss a 5-18 shooting performance out after specific focus. But for the first time in what feels like weeks, the Mavericks survived an off night from both guards and walked away with a win.
Bonus point: Porzingis drove right and dunked!
One of my favorite twitter bits is screaming about Porzingis dribbling left to no where. He’s right handed, huge, and skilled and he doesn’t love to go right for whatever reason. So when he dunked the hell out of the ball in the second quarter I think, shaking a guard along the way, I YELLED at my tv. More please.