An unfortunate fourth quarter doomed the Mavericks in a 132-125 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks Saturday night. It was a difficult game for the Mavericks, who had a double-digit lead in the final frame but couldn’t seal the deal, a rarity so far for this Mavericks team.
Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic had ridiculous games, but it wasn’t enough. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 40, and the Bucks did just enough late in the game to pull out the win.
Here are the numbers to know from this game.
5: Missed corner threes in the fourth quarter
Outside of a layup or dunk, the most productive shot in basketball is a corner three. The shorter line in those corners makes it a very valuable shot and a lot of modern basketball is about defenses limiting those attempts and offenses trying to generate them.
So it was a massive win for the Mavericks to shoot six corner threes in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, they only made one by Kyrie Irving. Grant Williams missed two, Tim Hardaway Jr. missed two, and Josh Green missed one.
One caveat is that one of Hardaway’s misses was a bad call where he got fouled but the refs didn’t blow the whistle. The other four misses however, were mostly good looks from the shooters you want shooting those shots.
Sometimes the NBA really devolves into a make-or-miss league and that was never more felt than this fourth quarter for Dallas. Make one or two of those corner threes and it’s a completely different game. Tough luck.
14: Antetokounmpo’s makes at the rim
It’s no surprise that Giannis lived in the paint, but his final count at the rim was hilarious: a perfect 14-of-14 from the floor in the restricted area.
The Mavericks just had no answer for him all night. The third quarter was encouraging when Dallas finally mixed up its coverage — his primary defender Grant Williams laid off him, stayed in the paint and dared Giannis to take a perimeter shot. Whenever Giannis dribbled toward the paint, Williams and Dereck Lively would meet him there. Giannis only made two shots in the third quarter.
The Bucks adjusted well in the fourth and Giannis burned the Mavericks late. Dallas started two 6’6 players at the forwards, this is just the unfortunate reality.
72: Combined points scored by Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving
Let’s end this one on a positive note: the Mavericks two stars showed up to play in a big way and they played so well they almost papered over the rest of the rosters flaws and beat a contender on the road.
This is the vision with this Dallas team. Luka and Kyrie are so good they can make up for a lot of weaknesses elsewhere. The duo absolutely cooked the Bucks and it was fun to see some diversity from the typical “my turn, your turn” offense. Luka set a screen for Kyrie and Kyrie scored off it! Wow!
Irving himself needs a special shot out, as he scored a preposterous 33 points in the second half. Irving struggled in the first half and absolutely turned it around coming out of the locker room to start the third quarter. A magical performance that should have been rewarded with a win. Sigh.