By Terrance Turner
April 3, 2022
Today, the Milwaukee Bucks played the Dallas Mavericks at home in the Fiserv Forum. Giannis Antetokounmpo continued his high-scoring ways, but the Mavericks gave the Bucks a run for their money, with both Luka Doncic and Dwight Powell turning in strong performances. With both players notching double-doubles and matching their efforts with a strong supporting cast, the Mavericks proved too much for the Bucks to overcome.
Early on, Dallas went on a 7-0 run to take an 11-9 lead. But Giannis went up against Doncic and tied the game. Doncic found Powell to make it 13-11. Powell already had four rebounds and six points just minutes into the first quarter. Brook Lopez missed a wide-open three; Giannis was able to tip the rebound to himself and land a hook shot to tie the game at 13. Dorian Finney-Smith passed to Dwight Powell, who responded with a basket of his own before the timeout.
After the timeout, Lisa Salters reminded viewers that Antetokounmpo has had a brilliant week: on Tuesday, a 40-point, 14-rebound game against the Philadelphia 76ers, in which he had a game-winning block against Joel Embiid. Two nights later, Giannis delivered a 44-point, 14-rebound performance against the Brooklyn Nets — in which he hit a game-tying three-pointer to send it to overtime and then hit two game-winning free throws. That three-pointer moved him to the top of the Bucks’ all-time scoring list, ahead of legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. (Antetokounmpo now has the most points in franchise history: 14,220.)
Jrue Holiday powered his way to the basket and then drained a free throw for a three-point play, tying the game at 19. Then he scored again to give the Milwaukee the lead. The Bucks ball movement culminated in a three from Grayson Allen. Milwaukee went on an 8-0 run to go up 24-19. They led 33-25 at the end of the first quarter.
As the second quarter began, Milwaukee jumped out to a 10-point lead; they were up 35 to 25 before some free throws from Spencer Dinwiddie. Davis Bertans hit a 35-foot three-pointer, and Powell nailed both of his free throws after a foul. The Bucks’ lead nearly evaporated after that 7-0 run by Dallas. But Brook Lopez missed a pass, grabbed his own rebound and banked it home. Dinwiddie for three. Giannis answered with two. A Lopez layup made it 41-35, with 7:46 to go in the half.
Milwaukee hung on to a slim lead throughout most of the second quarter, until Dinwiddie tied the game at 48 with a three-pointer. Then he gave Dallas the lead with another three. Doncic later added a basket of his own. Dallas went on an 10-0 run to lead by five. They were up 57-55 at halftime.
The Mavericks began to pull away in the third quarter, powered partly by Powell. After back-to-back free throws, he notched a three-point play. Luka Doncic provided the assist; Powell got the basket — and the foul. Doncic assisted him again with a beautiful half-court pass through Bucks defenders, and Powell extended the lead to nine with a slam dunk.
Mavericks led 66-57, their largest lead of the game. A few minutes later, after an attempted rally by Milwaukee, Doncic stretched the lead back up to nine with a 30-foot step-back jump shot. But the Bucks weren’t going away quietly.
In a dramatic sequence, Antetokounmpo got stripped of the ball by Mavericks guard Jalen Bronson. The ball was picked up by Milwaukee shooting guard Pat McConnaughton. Seconds later, Connaughton got a corner three — and the foul! (Powell knocked him down.) Then he sank a free throw to bring the Bucks within three.
Mavericks led 72-69 until Giannis took over. Driving to the basket, he knocked down Dorian Finney-Smith and then ignited the crowd with a thunderous throwdown.
Lopez nailed a floater to put the Bucks up by 1. They led 73-72 after that 10-0 run. Thanks to Antetokounmpo and Bobby Portis, they stretched that run to 14. Bucks were ahead by five, 77-72. But the Mavericks fought back. The result was a flurry of scoring, as displayed in this infographic from ESPN:
|Bobby Portis makes driving layup (Jrue Holiday assists)||72 – 77|
|4:20||Dorian Finney-Smith makes alley oop layup (Luka Doncic assists)||74 – 77|
|4:05||Pat Connaughton makes 2-foot dunk (Jrue Holiday assists)||74 – 79|
|3:49||Jalen Brunson makes 4-foot two point shot (Reggie Bullock assists)||76 – 79|
|3:40||Giannis Antetokounmpo makes 2-foot two point shot||76 – 81|
|3:24||Jalen Brunson makes 25-foot step back jumpshot (Dorian Finney-Smith assists)||79 – 81|
Khris Middleton and Bobby Portis continued to make critical plays as the third quarter wound down. But Luka Doncic countered them at every turn, and the strength of his efforts allowed Dallas to wrest back the lead. They held a 90-87 advanatge at the end of the third quarter.
As the fourth quarter began, the scoring began to slow. The first two minutes went by with only Middleton able to convert. But Doncic again caught fire on the court, sticking a 26-foot jump shot and later landing both free throws. According to ESPN, “Doncic led the Mavericks back by scoring or assisting on each of Dallas’ first 11 points in the final period.”
Antetokounmpo suffered a scary injury early on when Dwight Powell inadvertently whacked him in the hand during a defensive play. Antetokounmpo clutched his hand as he ran off court, doubled over in pain. Fans in the Fiserv Forum collectively held their breath. But Giannis recovered in time to make both his free throws. He would eventualy finish with a double-double, scoring 28 points and adding 10 assists.
But it wasn’t enough. Doncic hit a 3-pointer to put the Mavericks back ahead 93-91 with 9:04 left. He made a pair of free throws just over a minute later to make it 95-91. He capped the 7-0 run by finding Dorian Finney-Smith for a corner 3-pointer with 7:20 left.
Antetokounmpo made two free throws to cut the margin to five, but Doncic found Reggie Bullock for a corner 3-pointer that extended Dallas’ lead to 101-93 with 6:55 remaining. Jrue Holiday sank a 3-pointer to cut the Mavericks’ lead to 101-98 midway through the fourth quarter. Powell responded by converting a conventional three-point play to make it 104-98 with 5:52 left.
The Mavericks would lead by at least five for the rest of the game. They held on to win, 118-112. Doncic finished with 32 points, eight rebounds, 15 assists and three steals. And Dwight Powell hustled his way to 22 points (on 8-of-10 shooting) and 13 rebounds.
According to Mavs reporter Callie Caplan, this is the fifth consecutive 30-point game for Luka Doncic — the longest streak of his career.
“I mean, our defense was good,” Doncic said after the game. Asked how he and the Mavs were able to stop the “big three” of Giannis, Middleton and Holiday, Doncic answered: “I mean, it’s really hard. Those three guys are unbelievable talents. You know, Giannis, he’s — he’s an unbelievable player, and it’s just tough to play against him, on both ends.”
On his chemistry with Dwight Powell: “I mean, it’s not just this game. It’s every game. I think he’s very underrated. He helps me a lot by setting screens,” Doncic said, adding that “he’s been a huge part of this success.”