The Dallas Mavericks fell at home to the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night, losing 129-117. Giannis Antetokounmpo played a fantastic game, scoring 48 points, grabbing six rebounds, and dishing 10 assists to go along with his five steals and a block. Dame Lillard got in on the fun, pouring in 30 on 10-of 11 shooting from the floor. Luka Doncic scored 40 in defeat.
The Mavericks kicked things off by taking a flame thrower to the Bucks, hitting 7-of-8 from three. Then every Dallas fan had to hold their breath when Doncic and Giannis got tangled up and Luka’s ankle bent in a very unnatural way. Somehow though, after a brief trip to the locker room, Luka returned to help the Mavericks keep the pressure on Milwaukee. Dallas shot 9-of-14 from three in the quarter to take a 44-20 lead after 12 minutes.
Dallas kept the pressure on offensively in the second, weathering an early burst from the Bucks after they cut it to 17. But after rebuilding the lead to 25 and subbing Luka out, the Mavericks slowly started to come apart at the seams. The shot-making switched between the two teams, with Dallas coming up short and the Bucks putting the pressure on the rim. The final two minutes were an exercise in embarrassment, with Milwaukee going on a 15-0 run to close the half down 65-60.
The malaise Dallas fell into in the second carried over into the third as the Bucks chipped and chipped until they retook their first lead since they led 5-3 in the opening minutes. Something finally snapped with the Mavericks in the latter half of the third as they worked their way out of a six-point deficit. Maxi Kleber, of all people, continued with his monstrous game, hitting a couple of shots to keep Dallas within striking distance. Dallas trailed the Bucks 93-92 after three quarters.
Mistakes compounded for Dallas on both sides of the ball, with missed shots, second-chance points, and poor defense, the Bucks quickly built a lead that bounced between seven and nine points for much of the period. Dallas could score, but simply couldn’t get stops or rebounds. Milwaukee, led by Dame and Giannis, put the Mavericks away. Dallas fell to Milwaukee, 129-117.
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Dallas is lacking in composure
At some point, the constant whinging about any given thing happening in a Mavericks game by someone associated with the team gets to be too much.
Whether it’s an exasperated Luka Doncic at a given non-call, Mark Cuban screaming at the refs from his place on the bench, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Grant Williams barking above their stations, or the television announce crew, vocalizing frustration with the refereeing... it’s become an epidemic. Of course, the only guy who doesn’t get into the mix is coach Jason Kidd and he shares his disdain for what’s been going on postgame and does so like a bystander who couldn’t possibly affect the outcome.
This team is frustrated and so are the fans. Losses feel worse right now because this team clearly has something but due to injuries and bad luck, it’s starting to feel like we might never see what that is.
But the only way out of some things is through them; the NBA season is relentless and the Mavericks need to look in the mirror, pull themselves together, and close out the schedule strong before the NBA All-Star break.
Proof of (offensive) life from Maxi Kleber
It feels impossible that Maxi Kleber scored 21 points in an NBA game in the year 2024. And yet he did just that! While he was 4-of-7 from three, he also scored four times inside the arc! It was Maxi’s first double-digit effort this season and the most made two-point baskets from Kleber since a November 2022 contest.
Part of what makes Kleber madding to cover is not his scoring droughts, which happen to everyone, but his unwillingness to look at the rim on most possessions. He’s a skilled player and a good shooter, he just needs to keep taking them.
He was a stretch 4-5 once. He could be one again.
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