MILWAUKEE — It was a homecoming of sorts Saturday night at BMO Harris Bradley Center.
Facing his former team of one and a half seasons, Dallas Mavericks newcomer Monta Ellis looked to continue his early-season assault against opposing defenses while squaring off with the Milwaukee Bucks. Meanwhile, the Mavericks hoped to finish off their three-game road trip with their first victory away from home of the season, looking to contain ex-Mavs O.J. Mayo and Caron Butler in the process.
And although it wouldn’t be easy, the Mavericks (4-3) would finish their road trip on a high note, leaving the Bucks’ home floor with a 91-83 victory.
“We struggled defensively on the road the first three games, but tonight we knew we had to make a stand. We knew we had to do things a lot better,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said after holding an opponent below 100 points for just the second time this season.
He added: “We talked about it this morning and talked about how our chemistry on the road has not been good, and the guys really made a stand tonight. You know, Milwaukee is similar to us. They’ve got a lot of new guys, but they’re a very talented team and they’re very capable. They’ve beaten a couple of good teams, so this is a good win for us.”
Trying to put the events of the game before out of their minds after Friday’s 116-108 loss in Minnesota, the Mavericks attempted to get off to a quick start on the second night of a back-to-back. But it would be Mayo that would take control early, scoring 13 points in the opening quarter.
Still, behind point guard Jose Calderon’s early offense, the Mavs escaped into the second stanza with a 34-19 advantage after the first 12 minutes of play.
Returning to the lineup and making up for lost time after serving a one-game suspension for his flagrant-2 foul in Wednesday’s loss to Oklahoma City, sixth man Vince Carter took over the scoring responsibilities to start the second quarter. Meanwhile, Ellis continued to operate as the team’s lead playmaker, creating for teammates with his dribble penetration.
Ellis’ 12 points and five assists then carried the Mavs into the halftime intermission ahead 55-40.
“We were sharing the ball and we were knocking shots down,” Ellis said of the play of his team in the first half. “We were being aggressive. We came out and hit them first, and we got out to a big lead.”
Outshooting the Bucks (2-3) through two quarters, 50 percent to 35.7 percent, the Mavs looked like the fresher team. Dallas also had a 24-19 rebounding edge at the midway mark.
Joining Ellis in double figures, four-time All-Star forward Shawn Marion got the Mavs off to a nice start to open the third period with a corner 3-pointer. Dirk Nowitzki then followed suit, before Butler and Mayo forced a timeout by Carlisle after Dallas’ lead shrunk to 10, 64-54, with 6:05 left in the period.
The Milwaukee charge wouldn’t stop there, forcing another Carlisle timeout after Brandon Knight’s transition score to trim Dallas’ edge to just three, 66-63, with 1:38 left in the third. The Mavericks then limped into the final quarter with their once 19-point lead down to only four, 68-64.
In need of a spark, Carlisle would get it from his reserves as former Marquette standout Jae Crowder’s steal led to a basket by backup point guard Gal Mekel. The next defensive possession, DeJuan Blair’s steal and score forced a Milwaukee timeout with the Mavs up 74-67 and 9:45 remaining. However, the Bucks refused to go away, staying within an arm’s reach behind Mayo before Butler’s three-point play over Blair made it an 81-76 score with 5:23 left to play.
“It wasn’t pretty there. I thought we played with a lot of energy in the first half, and you knew they were going to make a run at us in the second half and throw everything at us. And they did,” Nowitzki admitted.
Mayo continued to lead the charge from there, connecting on long-range jumpers to make it a two-point game before Samuel Dalembert’s end-to-end play put the Mavs back ahead by four, 85-81, with 2:23 still on the game clock. Calderon and Ellis then converged on Mayo to force a turnover, leading to Nowitzki’s clutch jumper at the other end of the floor.
Ellis’ poised free throws with 1:14 on the clock to put the Mavs up seven would be enough to hold the Bucks off from there.
“They made their run, but we kept our composure and made plays down the stretch when we needed to,” Ellis said of the late-game execution.
Scoring 18 points on 6-of-14 shooting and dishing out five assists against his former team, Ellis led the Mavs to the win. Nowitzki added 16 points but hit just 5-of-15 from the field, sitting just 14 points now from tying Jerry West for 16th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Marion registered a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Carter returned to the lineup to score 13 points off the bench.
Mayo led the Bucks with 28 points on 11-of-20 shooting and Butler was the only other Milwaukee scorer in double figures with 19 points of his own to go with 13 rebounds. Meanwhile, Dallas converted Milwaukee’s 20 turnovers into 20 points, surrendering 16 points off 19 giveaways at the other end. The Mavs also outshot the Bucks, 42.3 percent to 38.3 percent, in addition to a 47-42 rebounding edge led by Blair’s 11 boards.
“You know, O.J. had a big night. [Gary] Neal could get hot, and Caron and those guys have been shooting the ball well. But we limited them to one shot, got out and ran, and we got stops at the end when we needed to,” Ellis concluded.
Note: The Mavericks will now return home, hosting the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.
|Shawn Marion, F||33||14||3||0||1||10||9||1||1||0||2||6-12||2-2||0-0|
|Dirk Nowitzki, F||32||16||0||1||0||6||6||0||1||1||7||5-15||0-5||6-6|
|Samuel Dalembert, C||26||6||0||0||2||6||2||4||1||4||7||3-6||0-0||0-0|
|Monta Ellis, G||39||18||5||3||0||2||1||1||4||2||9||6-14||0-1||6-7|
|Jose Calderon, G||35||9||3||1||0||7||5||2||1||1||-3||3-8||3-6||0-0|
|Caron Butler, F||38||19||3||2||0||13||12||1||3||2||-1||7-19||3-9||2-3|
|John Henson, F||26||8||1||0||0||5||2||3||2||3||-11||3-8||0-0||2-4|
|Zaza Pachulia, C||38||4||1||3||1||7||5||2||3||4||-1||1-6||0-0||2-3|
|O.J. Mayo, G||36||28||2||0||0||6||4||2||6||5||-3||11-20||4-7||2-2|
|Nate Wolters, G||35||5||5||2||1||3||2||1||1||2||-9||2-6||0-1||1-2|
MILWAUKEE — If the Dallas Mavericks are going to salvage their three-game road trip then it will take doing something they’ve yet to do this season: win in an opponent’s home gym.
Still looking for their first road win of the season, the Mavericks (3-3) will enter BMO Harris Bradley Center well aware of what hasn’t gone their way through their three games away from home. Saturday, the Mavs will try to change their misfortunes, taking the court on the second night of a back-to-back and concluding their road trip against the Milwaukee Bucks.
“I feel like it’s going to take time, but at the same time this is a road trip where we knew we could have got wins,” second-year standout Jae Crowder said following Friday night’s 116-108 loss to Minnesota. “We’ve just got to let this one go and get back on it. We’ve got a quick one (Saturday) that we feel we can win.”
But the Mavs know that if they are going to successfully wrap up their trip much will have to change after Friday night’s loss.
Unable to contain Timberwolves big man Kevin Love while he filled up the stat sheet with 32 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists, the Mavericks would also surrender an additional 32 points to sharpshooter Kevin Martin while allowing a team to reach triple digits for the sixth time through six games. The Mavs also couldn’t claim the victory despite outshooting the Timberwolves, 48.9 percent to 46.1 percent, while losing a tightly-contested rebounding battle, 44-40.
Still, while facing off against ex-Mavs O.J. Mayo and Caron Butler, the Dallas defense knows it will have to be on high alert against the Bucks (2-2) in order to return home with a much-needed road win.
“We just had too many breakdowns and they had some guys that played really well,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle confessed following Friday’s loss. “We had some bright spots, but our consistency so far on the road hasn’t been there. And we’ve got to get it together by (Saturday night).”
“We’ve got to play a little bit harder and we’ve got to compete a little bit harder,” 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki added. “We’ve got to compete a little harder on the glass … and we’ve got to be on the same page defensively.”
Note: The Mavericks will now conclude their three-game road trip Saturday on the second night of a back-to-back, touching down in Milwaukee for a battle against the Bucks. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. CT.
The Mavs return home Nov. 12 against the Washington Wizards. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.