Bucks pummeled by Mavericks
And the statistics that leaped out of the box score of the Dallas Mavericks’ 116-96 drubbing of the Bucks on Wednesday night at the American Airlines Center indicated that once again the Bucks effort and energy was lacking as the Mavericks avenged a one-sided loss earlier this season at the Bradley Center.
The Mavericks survived an early offensive barrage by Bucks forward Charlie Villanueva, built a 24-point halftime lead, and breezed through the second half.
“I felt we were incredibly soft, except for maybe the first 3 minutes of the game,” Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. “They shot 58 percent in the first half and scored 65 points. They killed us on the glass. The numbers are there.
“And even in the second half, they were quicker to the ball and except for the couple minutes offensively to start the game, they played better than us. They deserved to win. They played harder and they played better.”
Said Villanueva, “It’s very difficult to win the game if you let a team shoot over 50 percent and get out-rebounded the way we did. It’s nearly impossible.”
Villanueva scored 19 of his team-high 25 points in the first quarter. He made 8 of 12 shots in the first quarter but finished 10 of 22 for the game. Charlie Bell added 19 points off the bench for Milwaukee. Rookie forward Joe Alexander left in the fourth quarter with what the Bucks afterward called a mild right ankle sprain.
Forward Josh Howard led Dallas with 27 points, Jason Kidd had 19 points and nine assists while burly reserve forward Brandon Bass finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
The Mavericks shot 53.4 percent. They made 30 of 32 free throws (93.8 percent) and punished the Bucks on the boards, 51-25.
“We were making some pretty significant progress on the defensive end,” Skiles said. “And we’ve lost that now. We worked on a handful of specific things the last couple days and we weren’t able to transfer them into the game. We had a hard time piecing it all together on the defensive end.
“This could be a game that we need right now. Our guys are having a good year but we’ve had some significant slippage on the defensive end. We’ve been able to win by out-scoring people but if we’re going to get in a playoff series and go into somebody’s building and win, we’re probably going to do it, 95-89. Not 125-120.”
Villanueva had it going early, making 6 of his first 7 shots and scoring 13 of Milwaukee’s first 15 points as the Bucks ran out to an early eight-point lead. But after a Dallas timeout, the tide changed quickly as the Mavericks ran off 16 straight points. A free throw by Richard Jefferson with 3:27 left finally ended the Milwaukee drought and cut the Dallas lead to 23-17. Dallas, shooting 52.9 percent, led after one quarter, 33-23.
Villanueva had 19 points in the first quarter which was a season high for any quarter by a Mavericks opponent. Villanueva topped the 18 points that Spurs guard Tony Parker scored in the first quarter against Dallas the night before.
Dallas scored the first four points of the second quarter before center Francisco Elson sank a jumper with 10 minutes 28 seconds left—the first non-Villanueva field goal for the Bucks — that trimmed the lead to 37-25. The teams traded points for much of the quarter until Dallas lowered the boom by out-scoring the Bucks, 18-2, to close out the quarter and take a 65-41 halftime lead. Mavericks guard Jason Kidd sank a pair of three pointers during that stretch.
The Mavericks held big leads throughout the third quarter and took a 90-73 lead into the fourth. The Bucks cut the lead to 94-83 early in the fourth quarter but Dallas then scored 14 straight as Skiles cleared the bench.