The Mavericks weren’t happy about having less than a 20-hour turnaround from the end of Friday night’s game against Milwaukee to the start of Saturday’s visit to Chicago.

That was nothing, though, compared to how they felt about their free-throw shooting against the Bucks.

The Mavericks missed six free throws in a row in the final possessions and those costly misfires allowed Milwaukee to escape with a 106-105 victory that ended just before midnight at American Airlines Center.

Dwight Powell missed the second of his two free throws with 3:41 to play and that left the Mavericks down 102-101. Then Tim Hardaway Jr. missed three in a row on a play when Giannis Antetokounmpo fouled out by running into Hardaway on a three-point shot.

Finally, Dorian Finney-Smith missed two free throws with 13.8 seconds remaining, which could have put the Mavericks up by three points and opened the door for the Bucks’ game-winner.

That came when they ran a beautiful lob pass on an inbounds play that Brook Lopez laid into the basket with nobody around him to provide the winning points with 7.8 seconds left.

But it should have never come to that. The Mavericks missing six free throws was all you needed to know. It derailed a terrific effort for three-plus quarters.

The Mavericks saw their three-game winning streak end were 10-of-24 from the line for the game.

“If you shoot 41 percent, that’s not very good,” coach Jason Kidd said. “Ten-for-24. In a one-point ballgame, the small things matter. In the fourth, we were 7-for-15. So we were getting to the line. We just didn’t make ‘em. Especially there late. We practice free throws all the time. It’s just unfortunate that we didn’t make them at the right time.”

Said Luka Dončić: “It starts with me. You got to make the free throws. It’s a free shot, nobody’s guarding you. You just got to take your time and knock it in.”

They had played a wonderful first three quarters and led by as much as 12 points. The defense was there. But throughout the game, the free-throw shooting was not as the Mavericks could not ride the 33-point, 11-assist effort of Luka.

After Lopez’s bucket with 7.8 seconds left, the Mavericks could only get a 35-foot heave by Luka, which banged hard off the backboard.

The Mavericks fell to 13-12 while the Bucks, who swept the season series against the Mavericks, improved to 19-7.

“The locker room is kind of tough right now because we had the game,” Dončić said. “It’s not the first time. It’s not the last time, for sure. Just keep trusting. We were playing amazing basketball.

“We had a win in our pocket basically against one of the best teams in the league.”

And the heartbreaking defeat only makes the second half of this back-to-back situation even harder than it already was.

Luka, by the way said “we’ll see” when asked if he would be playing against the Bulls.

After being scheduled to arrive at Chicago hotel sometime after 3 a.m., they will face the Bulls at 7 p.m. That’s as fast a turnaround as anybody could remember in the Mavericks’ camp.

“We can only focus on tonight even though we wish this was baseball at spring training so we could have a split squad and send half the squad up to Chicago,” Jason Kidd said before the game. “But we can’t.

“They got to look at this because this isn’t right. I understand TV comes first. They pay the bills. But we could have played at 7, 7:30.”

Instead, the Mavericks had a 9 p.m. start at American Airlines Center against one of the best teams in the NBA.

Based on how they finished the night, clearly the Mavericks needed things to end just a bit earlier.

“We got a doubleheader,” Kidd deadpanned. “Somebody thought it was a great idea. So that’s why we’re playing it.

“The league does its best of trying to do the right thing. Unfortunately this week has been tough. We played home against Phoenix and the next night we’re in Denver. And now we’re here at 9 o’clock and then we’ll be in Chicago. It is what it is. The schedule, you got to play it out . . . Maybe they’re looking at something different, too, to see how this goes. Maybe they got other plans coming. So, we’ll see.”

Kidd said that played a role in the Mavericks cutting back on practice time during the two days off Wednesday and Thursday. He said they were aiming to get as much rest as possible.

He also said the NBA’s old rule that teams must have at least 22½ hours between tipoffs clearly is more of a guideline these days.

“Yeah, I think they ripped that page out,” Kidd said.

This is what good teams can expect, though. When you have Luka, it’s a blessing and if national TV says play at 9 p.m., then that’s the way it is.

“We’re very fortunate to have Luka and yes, national television is prime,” Kidd said. “And we have one of the best players in the world. But I don’t know if it helps playing at 9 o’clock at night and then tomorrow playing (early) in Chicago. This could have been fixed, could have been better, but it’s not. We’re not going to complain or say it’s unfair. We’re going to go play the games.”

And so, when it finally started – right about the time the fourth quarter would begin for a 7:30 game – the Mavericks and Bucks broke out the entertainment that featured a lot of memorable plays.

None moreso than Josh Green’s reverse dunk during the second quarter. He already had gone down the baseline for a reverse layup and on his second run toward the rim, he went under the backboard and rim and instead of kissing the ball off the backboard, he threw it down on the opposite side from where he started his jump.

It set up a second half that was sure to curtail any yawns that fans might have had.

Twitter: @ESefko

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