Miroslav Raduljica (right) and Bernard James battle for a rebound in the second half of Saturday’s loss.
Friday night in Milwaukee, the Bucks fell to Chicago courtesy of a Mike Dunleavy three-pointer with just seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. A loss is a loss, but at least Milwaukee kept it close (this is actually what it’s coming to). That was not the case Saturday.
Milwaukee found itself down to the Mavericks 38-26 at the end of the first quarter, and the lead ballooned to 59-41 by halftime. Playing without Dirk Nowitzki and coach Rick Carlisle, who were both out with an illness, Dallas employed a balanced attacked led by 18 points from Jose Calderon and 19 from Brandan Wright (in 19 minutes) off the bench. It was Wright’s first game back since missing 23 contests with a shoulder injury. The Mavericks shot 47.7 percent from the field and drilled 10 three-pointers on the night.
The Bucks have made a habit of playing poorly in every third quarters this season, and that trend continued Saturday. Dallas outscored Milwaukee 34-20 and entered the final period with a 32-point advantage. The Mavericks’ starters sat much of the fourth quarter, allowing Milwaukee to make a late 17-2 run to close the final gap to a respectable 13 points. Ten Dallas players saw at least 10 minutes, while only former Marquette star Jae Crowder topped the 30-minute plateau.
Though Milwaukee converted a respectable 44.4 percent of its looks, the offense was unable to keep pace with a defense allowing Dallas to score virtually at will. John Henson turned in another solid performance, tallying 18 points, 13 rebounds and a pair of blocks in just 29 minutes. Brandon Knight chipped in 16 points and Miroslav Raduljica added 12 off the bench.
Giannis Antetokounmpo continued to make the most of his recent uptick in playing time, contributing 13 points, nine rebounds, four assists and a block in a career-high 35 minutes. Over Milwaukee’s last three games, the rookie is averaging 12 points and 8.7 boards in 30.7 minutes.
– Playing despite the recent passing of his grandmother, O.J. Mayo struggled mightily against his former team, scoring just four points on 1-of-6 shooting in 15 minutes. He scored 14 in Friday’s loss to Chicago but has not topped 10 points in three of his last four games. Mayo averaged 15.3 points on 44.9 percent shooting for the Mavs last season but has seen his numbers dwindle to 14.3 points and 40.4 percent shooting this season.
– Miroslav Raduljica’s 12 points were a new career-high, eclipsing his previous mark of 10 set Wednesday against San Antonio.
– With Rick Carlisle ill, Dallas assistant Monte Mathis handled head coaching duties. Mathis, who began his career with the team as a video coordinator, has coached the Mavericks’ summer league squad each of the last two summers.
– The loss drops Milwaukee to 5-19 on the season, a half-game behind Utah (6-20) for the league’s worst record. The Bucks are 15½ games behind 20-3 Indiana in the East but remain just five games out of the eighth seed, for which Charlotte, Toronto, Chicago and Washington are currently tied. Milwaukee scores a league-worst 89.6 points per game but allows only 98.3 points per game – good for ninth in the NBA.
– Looking ahead, Milwaukee has a three-day break before playing host to the Knicks on Wednesday. They then travel to Cleveland on Friday and head home to face the 76ers on Saturday night.