In hindsight, it would have been greedy to expect another buzzer beater when the last one is still so fresh in our minds. Just this past Tuesday, Deron Williams got the ball on an inbound pass, pump faked, and drilled a game-winning three against the Kings, and it feels like the resulting dog pile hasn’t even been broken up yet. To ask Williams to do it again just a few games later, well… I guess it’s asking too much.
Damn it all if it didn’t feel like it was supposed to happen, though. Entering the game at 14-23 and with the worst-rated defense in the league, the Bucks shouldn’t have been able to steal this one. This time it was Khris Middleton who connected on what proved to be the game-winning shot with nine seconds to go following a Dallas turnover, and while Williams had an excellent opportunity to do it again at the other end of the court, this happened instead.
So close. The main point to remember, however, is that a buzzer beat shouldn’t have been necessary to win this game. Things could have gone very differently. Maybe if the Mavericks hadn’t gotten outscored 55-39 in the first half. Maybe if they hadn’t given up an insane 56 points in the paint to a team that clearly doesn’t like to rely on scoring from the perimeter. Maybe if anyone on the Bucks other than the dangerous Middleton, who finished with 27 points on 10-for-18 from the field, had taken the shot in transition.
With the loss, that impressive second half comeback becomes just a footnote, and the young, raw Bucks can add another win to their disappointing season total. As for Dallas, they drop back to five games over .500 at 21-16, still unable to get to that uncharted territory of seven over. It stings. This is the sort of team you have to beat, especially at such a pivotal part of the schedule. Were it not for a flat first half, if the team had been firing on even on one cylinder in the first 24 minutes of the game, they could have flown to Minnesota with another exhilarating win. Now the game against the Timberwolves is a must-win, because the next five matchups will all feature very difficult opponents.
As a team, the Mavericks continued to struggle from the field, connecting on just 41.7 percent of their shots. Devin Harris was sensational off the bench, shooting 7-for-12 from the field and scoring 19 points in about exactly that many minutes, but there were few other bright spots. There were some big threes throughout the game by a variety of Dallas players, but many of those same players had a forgettable night otherwise.
Chandler Parsons hit just one of his eight attempts and was largely a non-factor, Dirk Nowitzki shot just 6-for-17, and even the streaking Wesley Matthews was only 4-for-12. Matthews and Nowitzki combined to knock down seven shots from downtown, so they weren’t useless, and the latter fell just one rebound shy of a double-double. He also hit this shot here that made things very interesting late in the game.
It wasn’t all bad, but it wasn’t great. The biggest issue is that it was a lack of execution that beat the Mavericks, not the Bucks. Milwaukee was far from perfect, and they got almost nothing from key starters Greg Monroe (3-for-10) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (2-for-8). I think they’re an easy team to root for, and they certainly have the talent to beat the Mavs on a night when they’re at their best, but I don’t think this was it.
Some nights just don’t end the way they’re supposed to. Some final shots don’t fall. On this particular night, Dallas dropped a game they should have won. Let’s hope we won’t have to look back on it and assign it a description any more significant than that.