What seemed like it should be a clear victory coming into the afternoon wasn’t, as the Bucks fell to the Mavericks at the Bradley Center, 109-105. Harrison Barnes dominated the Bucks yet again (remember: he scored 32 back in November), posting a 31 point performance today. For the Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way with 31 of his own.
Right out of the gates, it was a different tone for the Bucks compared to last game. On Friday night, they exploded for a 22-4 lead against Detroit come the first break. At the first timeout in the opening quarter today, it was 18-11 in Dallas’ favor. They came out of the gates immediately hitting, going a perfect 7-of-7 from the floor. Dirk exposed Thon early out on the perimeter, daring and forcing the rookie to come out of his comfort area. He did a solid job doing so, connecting on a pair of threes before Greg Monroe subbed in for Maker.
Despite the hot shooting from the Mavs early on, Milwaukee didn’t flinch. By quarter’s end, they only trailed by three at 31-28, which is respectable given how things began. They always seemed to have an answer for any Dallas bucket, and got the last punch heading into the second quarter when Michael Beasley sank a 17-foot jump shot with 0.8 seconds left. Giannis led the way with 10 points.
It became clear that defense remained optional in the second quarter, just like it was for the first 12 minutes. Defensive stops were rare with both teams just going back and forth. The points still remained nip-and-tuck though, with no team really establishing a lead of more than five or six points at any given moment. Dallas could only contain THON MAKER! for so long. The Milwaukee folk hero rallied off eight consecutive points to end the half and brought the Bucks back to even it up at 53 apiece. Giannis ended the opening 24 minutes with 14 points, while Dirk led the box sheet for Dallas with 12 of his own.
A flurry of threes rained down to start off the second stanza, as Milwaukee connected on several right off the bat from Maker, Snell and Middleton. Gary Payton made his Bucks debut midway through the third and made his presence immediately felt by splashing home a three with nothing but net. A few possessions later, The Mitten (you can thank Jim Paschke for that one) stormed down the baseline and crammed one home.
The rest of the quarter transpired in a similar fashion to the first two periods — close throughout. However, when the third buzzer sounded, Milwaukee clung to a 78-75 lead.
The pattern of turnovers rose early on in the fourth and it was enough for Dallas to strike. They surged out to a small five point lead, making Milwaukee take a time out at the 10:05 mark. It’d scoot to a nine point advantage for Dallas and it’d stay that way for a while, until a Matthew Dellavedova 3-pointer closed the Bucks to within six at the 6:38 spot.
Again, the Bucks would be forced to muster a comeback. With less than five minutes, Dallas maintained a 10 point lead. Some momentum was briefly gained by Milwaukee when they slashed the lead to just five, but a Harrison Barnes 3-pointer (right in the Greek Freak’s face) on the other end and then a charge on Giannis reversed the ground gained. With 2:26 remaining in the game, the score stood at 104-96 in favor of the Mavs.
A pair of Giannis free throws deflated the lead to two, followed by a Dallas shot clock possession that granted the Bucks some life. On the ensuing possession, a Khris Middleton floater brought the crowd to its feet.
After two free throws from Harrison Barnes, Matthew Dellavedova buried a 3-pointer, bringing Milwaukee to within just three with 50 seconds left. A Giannis three failed to fall, and then the Harrison Barnes domination — which has destroyed the Bucks in both games this season — struck again. A fadeaway from him closed the Bucks out, providing Dallas a five point lead and the victory on the night.
- Giannis nearly grabbed a triple-double Friday night against the Pistons, and tonight he came even closer, finishing just an assist shy. With another 20+ point performance this afternoon, he catalogued his 54th 20 point game of the season -- a truly impressive stat. The superstardom continues to grow for the young Bucks All-Star.
- Today marked the beginning of the Gary Payton II era for the Bucks, as he was officially inked to a contract earlier this morning. He immediately made a splash in his opening minutes received, first sending in a 3-pointer and then a strong baseline dunk. It’ll be intriguing to keep an eye on his usage during this week’s upcoming games.
- We were shown one of Thon’s biggest weaknesses early on in today’s action. Dirk Nowitzki was playing cat and mouse with him and creating way more separation than the rookie is typically accustomed to. He hasn’t had to deal with big men that can stroke the basketball too many times this year, but a weakness in his game was definitely taken advantage of.
- Once again, Giannis was a beast down low. He constantly drove the ball into the paint and the teeth of the Dallas defense and they had no answer for him. Especially with how he’s been getting to the line so many times lately, it’s a must for him to always attack the interior defense and he knows it. He seems to always have the upper hand, whomever he goes up against down there.
- This was my first time seeing Dirk Nowitzki play basketball live and in person. I enjoyed seeing Dirk Nowitzki play basketball live and in person.
- I don’t know how many of you have noticed, but it seems as if Greg Monroe is playing with butter on his hands. Over the last few games, he’s developed a tendency to let passes sneak through his hands and creates turnovers by doing so. Hopefully he figures it out soon, but it’s pretty weird.
- Dallas creates the fourth most turnovers in the NBA, and it was evident in the late stages of the third/early moments of the fourth quarter. Their amplified defense frustrated the Bucks on multiple consecutive possessions, which then transcended into them gaining the lead. Milwaukee has now struggled in multiple games regarding turnovers, so hopefully they’ll be able to shore it up soon.
- It wasn’t exactly the best day at the office for Khris Middleton. He ended up finishing 5-of-15 from the floor and just 1-of-8 from beyond the arc. However, not all nights go your way in this league and he’ll have his opportunity to bounce back Tuesday night in Oklahoma City.
- Still trying to figure out that Giannis 3-point attempt late in the game. Seems like the Bucks could’ve had a better option instead of that, and it killed all the momentum they had worked up towards that point.
- Harrison Barnes continued to torch the Bucks. After engulfing them for 32 points back on November 6, he paced Dallas with 31 points on the afternoon. I’m scared to look at his total shot percentage from those two games but spoiler: It’s probably red hot.
- On a bright note, all Bucks starters generated at least 10+ points. Consistent scoring is something that can always be appreciated, win or lose.
The Bucks embark upon a three-game road trip, starting Tuesday night in a matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The game will feature Giannis and Russell Westbrook blowing people’s minds, and will be available on ESPN.