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Mavs 73, Bucks 72: Guards help Dallas squeak by

Box Score

Nothing like a zany ending to add a bit of spice to a Vegas game, eh? Despite a major talent deficit in the backcourt, the Bucks hung around and twice almost won their Vegas opener, but Roddy Beaubois (15 pts on 14 shots) and company did just enough to hold off Jim Boylan's crew in overtime. Deron Washington twice gave the Bucks a lead in the waning seconds, but a poorly-defended lob play at the end of regulation and a nice pull-up from Beaubois in OT were enough to see them sneak by in a game they probably should have won going away.

Dallas led early and for a while it didn't seem like anyone except Darnell Jackson (17/7) would score, but to their credit the Bucks kept plugging away and Dallas kept fouling (30-20 fouls). Milwaukee's guards predictably struggled to create good shots, with DeMarcus Nelson slightly better than the rest--mostly because he was smart enough to attack the rim and throw his body at defenders to draw fouls. Larry Sanders struggled from the field, but was an energizer on defense and looked generally OK when he wasn't trying to force up shots.

Larry Sanders - 33 min, 4/15 fg, 1/2 ft, 9 pts, 7 rebs, 3 blk, 1 ast, 1 stl, 6 to
Well, the scouting reports were right in at least one sense: Sanders is a work in progress. Offensively, he struggled with his finishing and often rushed shots from all over the court, but he also hit an early turnaround and buried a couple open 15-18 footers, flashing nice balance and form when he had time to measure his shot. The Bucks obviously want him to work on his offensive game this week, but it would have helped if he calmed down a bit and took his time, as six turnovers and poor shooting were indicative of a lack of patience early on. He's not just an athlete, but he's got work to do.

Though he didn't have too hard of a time establishing position against the Mavs' mediocre big men, it was also clear that he needs to develop a go-to post move other than a turnaround jumper. I was a bit surprised he seemed to get most of his touches on the right block, as I assumed his preferred move would be a righty hook turning into the middle (easier to set up from the opposite side). He also looked a bit meek when he went up for a couple contested looks around the cup, which was probably the most disappointing thing about his game. If nothing else he should be able to use his size and energy to score garbage points, but we didn't really see that tonight. Not having an NBA-caliber point guard definitely hurt, as Sanders used his terrific end-to-end speed to beat his man in transition a half dozen times without getting a look.

On a positive note, Sanders was also a disruptive defender, blocking three shots and altering a few more, mostly in help situations. As was hoped, his length and quickness allow him to make up tons of ground on both ends, giving him excellent potential as a help and P&R defender. He wasn't really tested on the block much, but it's clear he could stand to strengthen his base.  As a rebounder he showed decent hands but didn't always find the best position. Some added bulk would definitely help, but his length and athleticism suggest Scott Skiles should be able to find time for him at the 4 and 5.

Darnell Jackson - 26 min, 8/15 fg, 1/3 ft, 17 pts, 7 reb
Jackson looked like an NBA player against the Mavericks' inexperienced frontline, using his wide frame to muscle past taller defenders and get his shot off despite his lack of explosiveness. Jackson's not super-skilled but he just has a good sense for how to play, showing the kind of instincts in the paint that Sanders and Gallon will hopefully gain sooner rather than later. That might make him more useful as a Summer League ringer than an end-of-the-bench type for the Bucks, but they could do much worse with their last roster spot.

Tiny Gallon - 7 min, 2/5 fg, 5 pts, 3 reb, 1 to
The problem with having all your "good" players at the 4/5 is that somebody had to miss out, and in this case it was the 19-year-old rookie. A bit disappointing given Sean Williams is unlikely to make the roster, but Gallon will probably get his chances as the week goes on. Coming off the bench, Tiny quickly forced a 20-footer after stepping on the court, needlessly contorting his body on a fairly open look. But he followed it up by gaining deep position to finish nicely with his right hand off the glass, and gave the crowd something to like by stepping back to hit a straight-away three in the second half. Though he established deep post position a handful of times, he missed two other turnarounds when it would have been nicer to see him attack his defender.

My first reaction to seeing Gallon on the floor was that he didn't look particularly fat; he's just a big-bodied dude. The only time when his size really seemed obvious was when he tried to run at full speed...let's just say he's not a gazelle. Overall, his short time on the court didn't do anything to persuade me he would see real playing time this year, but I won't pretend that the first seven minutes of summer league are anything close to a significant sample size. Let's hope he seems more time tomorrow night, because he clearly needs the time on the court.