The Dallas Mavericks won at home on Wednesday night, beating the Milwaukee Bucks 116-101. The duo of Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic led Dallas with the former with 26 scoring and 17 rebounds and the latter with 27, nine rebounds and nine assists. Donte DiVincenzo scored a team-high 22 for the Bucks in defeat.
Facing a Milwaukee squad without Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Dallas Mavericks faced the Bucks and looked tired. Dallas was back to back on the second night, lost in Houston last night, and it 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 the six shots and a pair of free throws. Luka Doncic also watched his game early, but a toe injury forced him out of the game for a while. The banking unit, usually powerful, lacked a lot of open eyes and gave up leadership. The Mavericks trailed after a quarter, 31-29.
The two teams played it tight in the second, with Brook Lopez looking like prime Dirk Nowitzki and Donte DiVincenzo turning into Ray Allen. Despite Tim Hardaway and Jalen Brunson struggling, the Mavericks remained within reach. A handy post-up from Luka Doncic and a kick-out to Porzingis for three and an offensive rebound from Porzingis late in the quarter made things interesting. And despite some very bad missed calls from the referees, two Doncic drives to end the half got the Mavericks to within one. Dallas was behind in the half of 56-55.
Things really started to click in the third quarter as the Mavericks moved forward time and again. But every time the Bucks responded. Dallas took an 80-72 lead with 1:58 in the quarter, only to get Luka Doncic into play and flip the ball over three times. Tim Hardaway added one himself just before the end of the quarter and Milwaukee scored 12 times in a row during the minutes. Dallas was 84-80 behind on his way to fourth.
For a time, it felt like the belly punch the Mavericks had to endure to end the third could hang them on the fourth. Then Dorian Finney-Smith broke the seal during his long three-point drought. Luka then found Doncic Porzingis for his own three-pointer. Then they reconnected to take charge. On the next attacking possession, Porzingis picked up an attack board and knocked it down. From then on, the game was all Dallas. A four point lead went 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 final statement
In my mind, it’s been a while since the Dallas Mavericks entered the fourth down and blew out an opponent. Dallas defeated the Bucks in the last frame, 36-17. The attack was led by Kristaps and his 11 points, a fitting feat after seeing the ball only once against the Rockets last night.
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 when actually using their top two players tonight … are you ready for this … at the same timeAnd it worked. Who could have guessed. More play and more ball movements, less isolation, everyone will be happy.
There is a ton of data on why offensive rebounding is no longer a thing in the NBA, but if I understand any of it. When I look at the box score, the thing jumps off the page for me is the six offensive rebounds from Kristaps Porzingis and the five from Dorian Finney-Smith. Watching Porzingis crash the boards injects energy into his playing that’s harder to find when he’s the pop man on a pick and roll.
I’m sure there is some game plan and opponent dependent stuff going on in terms of how often or willing Dallas is to fix the offending glass, but if you go to the game logs for Porzingis and sort on his offensive rebounding, if he has 3 or more the Mavericks tend to win the last time I checked.
The Mavericks survived without their bench combo being a big factor
Before the game, the Bally Sports broadcast had a segment about Jalen Brunson and Tim Hardaway and how effective they’ve been off the bench this season. It would of course follow that the two would ditch a 5-18 shooting performance after specific focus. But for the first time in what feels like weeks, the Mavericks survived a bad night from both guards and walked away with a win.
Bonus point: Porzingis drove to the right and submerged!
One of my favorite twitter bits is shouting about Porzingis dribbling from left to nowhere. He’s right-handed, tall and skilled and he doesn’t like to go right for any reason. So when he dunked the ball out of the sphere in the second quarter, I think, shaking a guard along the way, I SCREAM at my TV. More please.