MILWAUKEE – Although he acknowledged that it wasn’t one of his finest games, Luka Doncic finally collected his first NBA triple-double on Monday afternoon. But the Dallas Mavericks left the most important chip on the table.
Giannis Antetokounmpo collected 31 points and 15 rebounds and the Milwaukee Bucks used a second-half flurry to defeat the Mavs, 116-106, before a sellout crowd of 17,963 at the Fiserv Forum. The loss was the fourth in a row for the Mavs and dropped their record to 20-26 overall and 4-20 on the road.
The Mavs led 59-57 at halftime, but former SMU star Sterling Brown came off the bench to score nine of his 11 points in the third quarter when Milwaukee outscored Dallas, 35-25. And Malcolm Brogdon added 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter as the Bucks raised their NBA-best record to 34-12.
“After a tough start we did some very good things to get the halftime lead,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “At the beginning of the third (quarter) was a rough start for us, but we hung in and they just made a few more plays.”
Milwaukee mounted a 104-87 led with 7:12 left in the game, but the Mavs put on their rally caps and crawled to within 104-98 of the Bucks following a dunk by Dorian Finney-Smith. It was still a six-point game (112-106) after Doncic banked in a 3-pointer with one minute to go.
However, Brogdon hit a pair of free throws, Harrison Barnes missed a 3-pointer, and Eric Bledsoe’s dunk with 27.5 seconds left capped the day’s scoring.
“They’re a tough team,” said Barnes, who was 4-of-15 for the field and finished with eight points. “They’re going to get some shots, they’re going to get to the free throw line.
“But I thought for the most part we did a good job of making them work for their shots.”
The Bucks also made Doncic work for his shots. But the super talented rookie still finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists while – at age 19 years and 327 days old – became the second-youngest player in NBA history to register a triple-double.
The youngest is Philadelphia’s Markelle Fultz, who picked up a triple-double last April when he had 13 points 10 rebounds and 10 assists – ironically against the Bucks.
Still, Doncic, who was just 6-of-17 from the field, was not at all pleased with his overall performance.
“I played bad, for sure,” he said. “I got a triple-double, but I would prefer a win, for sure.”
Carlisle pointed out that opponents are dialing more frequently and creating additional ways to try and contain Doncic.
“Teams are putting a great deal of emphasis on playing him,” Carlisle said. “They’re putting pressure on him, they’re making it tough, so this is where he’s got to learn and adjust.
“Some of it is he’s missed some shots that he normally makes and some of it is teams are putting a real emphasis on slowing him down.”
Either way, Doncic knows he needs to take the necessary steps to take his game to another level.
“I missed some shots that I shouldn’t have missed,’ Doncic said. “I should have made those shots. I got to work on that.”
The Mavs know they also have to work on maintaining their composure. One game after Doncic was ejected for kicking the ball into the stands Saturday night in Indiana, Dwight Powell was ejected Monday with 29.6 remaining in the third quarter.
“He was talking to the refs and then he got thrown out,” Carlisle said. “He thought he got held on a play when he was going for the rebound.
“He just talked to me about it. He’s very sorry that it happened – that he got thrown out. In a game like this you need all your guys, and you need a guy like him that’s a mobile big man.”
Milwaukee started the game firing on all cylinders as it busted loose for a 20-9 lead, thanks in large part to a combination of Bucks center Brook Lopez converting three 3-pointers and the Mavs making just four of their first 18 field goal attempts.
“Obviously they’re a very, very good team and they put you in a lot of bad ways on the offensive end,” guard Devin Harris said. “Spreading out, nobody in the paint, five (players) out, and you’ve got a big man (in Lopez) out there shooting step-back 30-footers.
“It’s tough, but I thought we did a good job of just continuing to fight.”
But the fight, however, didn’t end the way the Mavs wanted it to end. Nevertheless, Doncic was able to get himself in the triple-double books.
“Triple-doubles are very rare,” Carlisle said. “Obviously he did some good things in all three areas.
“It was a matter of time before he got one of these. But we didn’t get the win, so that’s the thing that’s disappointing.”
NOTES: DeAndre Jordan shook off a sprained left ankle to score 15 points, grab 15 rebounds and block two shots against the Bucks. Also, Jalen Brunson scored 16 points and handed out five assists, Wesley Matthews contributed 15 points and blocked four shots, and Dorian Finney-Smith added 13 points and five rebounds. . .Dirk Nowitzki didn’t play against Milwaukee, but coach Rick Carlisle said he told the 21-year veteran that he probably wouldn’t be in the rotation on Monday. The Mavs host the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday, so expect Nowitzki to be back in the rotation at that time. . .The NBA celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by having 22 of its 30 teams playing on Monday on MLK Day. Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said of Dr. King: “He’s a defiant symbol of strength and one of the great men in history, obviously. He sacrificed so many things for what was right and we’re all thankful for everything that he did.”. .The Bucks are in their first season playing in the new $554 million Fiserv Forum. “It’s a great layout, there’s a lot of space in the locker room area,” Carlisle said. “When a team goes into a new building the first things they check out is the locker room and the auxiliary locker room. They’ve got weight rooms, they’ve got multiple offices, they’ve got separate training rooms. It’s really well done, and the arena itself looks to be a very good shooting background. The Bucks certainly aren’t having any trouble shooting here.”. .Photographers were scrambling to get that perfect picture before the game when Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo walked over near the Dallas bench to talk with his younger brother, Mavs rookie forward Kostas Antetokounmpo. “It’s great that they got a chance to be in the same building, both be in uniform on opposing teams,” coach Rick Carlisle said before the game. “I think it must be really a nice thing for Giannis to have his little brother there, so it’s pretty cool.” It was the first time Kostas was on the active roster for an NBA game. However, Kostas did not play in the game. So what’s the best advice Giannis gave Kostas about improving his skill set? “I feel like the biggest thing he always talked about was effort and energy, and not every shot can go in, and sometimes you’re going to have bad days,” Kostas said. “But you can always bring your effort and energy every game all the time.”. .The Mavs will have point guard Dennis Smith Jr. back for the game against the Clippers. Smith has missed the last six games with either an illness or tightness in the middle of his back. “He’s a great player,” guard Luka Doncic said. “I told you I miss him on the court, the way he plays. We miss him, for sure.” Last season during a 128-120 win at New Orleans on Dec. 29, 2017, Smith recorded a triple-double when he finished the game with 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.