Dallas Mavericks 115, Milwaukee Bucks 113

Posted by Rob Mahoney on November 17, 2009 under Recaps | 9 Comments to Read

Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images.

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“Let’s be bad guys.”
-Jayne Cobb

If last season’s Mavs had one defining flaw, it would be their lack of a team identity. They struggled all season long to define who they were as a team, and with no team-wide, implicit understanding of their collective on-court personality, the 2008-’09 Mavs faltered when faced with a legitimate challenge.

The 2009-’10 season to date has played out a bit differently. One might claim that the Mavs have developed a strong defensive identity, and though you probably wouldn’t know it from watching the second half of last night’s game, they wouldn’t be wrong. One might claim that the Mavs have developed a resilient identity, working tirelessly toward wins despite their shortcomings. But I see something different. Through eleven games, the Mavs have forged a completely new identity from the regular season fires. Your Dallas Mavericks, ladies and gentlemen, are heartbreakers.

Just ask the Milwaukee Bucks, who fought and fought and probably deserved to win. Or ask the Houston Rockets, who ran out to a big lead against a more talented Mavs team. Or ask the Utah Jazz, who…well, you know. These aren’t just big wins or comeback wins. The Mavs are trivializing the spirit of their opponents’ hard work and execution by showing that this team will always be there, ready to break some hearts and play the villain. These Mavs may not have many characteristics that make them inherently hate-able, but if you win enough games that have gone to the wire, opposing teams (and their fans) will not only feel deflated, but resentful.

The Mavs’ long lost offense turned out to be the mechanism that silenced the Milwaukee crowd. Though the Mavs’ O stalled significantly in the second half (37 second half points vs. 66 first half points), it was more of a return to earth than a genuine struggle. The hot shooting in the first half had to stop at some point, and Brandon Jennings, Ersan Ilyasova, Luke Ridnour, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute took full advantage of the sudden cold streak. An 18-point Maverick lead was wiped out completely, and a team whose defense had struggled all game long was now left with cold shooters to contest the oozing confidence of Brandon Jennings.

Let’s take a minute to properly appreciate what Jennings did. He exploded for 13 points in the fourth quarter, and they could not have been bigger in terms of magnitude. These were game-tying buckets, go-ahead buckets, and momentum-shifting buckets, many of which could have gone down as the final scene if not for some Maverick heroics. Jennings simply ran around or shot over every Maverick not named Rodrigue Beaubois, and Carlisle’s shift to a zone in the fourth quarter seemed to be an admission of that. It didn’t help much at all, as Jennings (25 points on 8-22 FG, 7 rebounds, 8 assists) and Ilyasova (19 points, 4-7 3FG, 12 rebounds) were well in rhythm on the threes and mid-range jumpers.

But each time the Bucks made a big shot, the Mavs made an even bigger one. Dirk Nowitzki was especially effective down the stretch, but the Mavs would have been lost (and would have lost) without the clutch contributions of Jason Terry and Drew Gooden. Gooden’s contributions on the night won’t be forgotten (22 points, 14 rebounds), but his tip-in of a missed Nowitzki layup was absolutely tremendous, tying the game with 27 seconds remaining in overtime, and setting up Dirk’s game-winning jumper.

At times, it almost seemed as if the Mavs were trying to lose. Jason Kidd had his best passing game of the season to the tune of 17 assists, but very nearly gave away the game with an unforced turnover near the end of the fourth quarter. Dirk Nowitzki had an excellent night, but committed a horrible loose ball foul that sent the Bucks to the line with the game tied and just 37 seconds to play. Rick Carlisle refused to put Rodrigue Beaubois into the game in the fourth, despite the fact that Brandon Jennings was just 2-11 from the floor while Roddy was in the game. But all of those figures found redemption in the game’s final sequence: Beaubois partially blocked (or at least heavily contested) a Jennings 3, Carlisle draws up a game-winning inbounds play executed perfectly with a pristine pass from Kidd and a sweet jumper from Dirk at the final horn.

Closing thoughts:

  • Rodrigue Beaubois (12 points, 5-9 FG) needs to be on the floor more, and needs to be on the floor when it matters most. His performance wasn’t flawless, but he really does change the game with his speed and in this game, with his defensive ability. I respect J.J. Barea’s defense more than most, but he was a liability on the court. He couldn’t stop Jennings, and J.J.’s trips into the lane often ended with an awkward floater or a blocked attempt.
  • Shawn Marion missed the entire second half with an ankle sprain, Erick Dampier was still not with the team (although he seems to be feeling better), and Josh Howard was still out with injury. This was a big win for the Mavs regardless, but even bigger considering the Mavs’ injuries.
  • I feel sorry for Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. He played that last shot about as well as anyone could, but Dirk still got a pretty good look and an even better bounce.

GOLD STAR OF THE NIGHT: The Gold Star of the Night goes to…Rodrigue Beaubois? Drew Gooden? I’m tempted, but this one just seemed too obvious.

  • http://basektballforbeginners.blogspot.com BJ

    That’s Jayne’s line; “Shiny. Let’s be bad guys.”

    • http://www.thetwomangame.com Rob Mahoney

      @BJ: I’m ashamed of myself. Thanks for the correction.

  • Cynthia

    This was an outstanding win! I was really afraid coming into this game…a back to back and then playing the Bucks because they ALWAYS give the MAVS fits. It’s kinda like the Lakers and the Bobcats….which NO ONE ever mentions…(by the way, the ‘Cats swept the almighty Lakers last year). It’s tough to beat Milwaukee. And play tough is just what the MAVS did. The Uberman was (of course) outstanding. Jet did his thing, Kidd…one shot away from a triple double and enough CANNOT be said about the spectacular play of Drew (double double) Gooden and Roddy “Buckets” Beaubois. If JJ doesn’t watch it…(and honestly I don’t think it will take long) he’s going to lose his job to Beaubois. And isn’t it nice that when Damp is out Drew comes to play! All in all an OUSTANDING win by our MAVS!

  • dgatorr

    Well written piece Rob, and a very entertaining win by our Mavs ! i must say it was a very good ending to a game that we have normally fallen short on closing games out. this team is going places that is refreshing to watch, and great to be a fan of, Great Game Guys, keep up the awesome work !!

  • http://vittoriodezen.wordpress.com Vic De Zen

    Great write-up. I wasn’t sure the people in Dallas were aware that their team is villainous. I was rooting for the Bucks hard last night, and even though I KNEW that Dirk would make that shot, it made me angry.

    One guy I can’t root against on the Mavs: Beaubois. That kid needs to be on the floor all the time.

  • JT

    Great piece Rob.

    If there’s one thing we can learn from this game, it’s that Roddy is going to be one hell of a player. Defending Brandon Jennings with reckless abandon, pouring in shots, and hustling after loose balls, Beaubois showed almost limitless potential. While the rest of the NBA (rightfully) drools over Jennings’ efforts this season, Jennings himself said that he hadn’t seen anyone defend him like Beaubois. I’m hoping he earns some minutes in that three-guard lineup Carlisle loves because he gives us something different.

    I’m hoping he stays at the 2 until JHo gets back, maybe stay there for the rest of the season.

  • Kevin

    Great shot by Dirk to finish the game but it’s hard to get too excited when we can barely beat the Bucks. I know we’ve got injuries but they didn’t have Michael Redd. They were also 5-2 going into the game but we all know they’re 40 wins at best. I find it a little concerning that the Mavs seem to let a lot of mediocre opponents hang with them too long be nice to see us dominate a few more of these games.

  • http://definitelymaybe.blog.de finzent


    I don’t think that’s a big problem, because

    - it was a back-to-back game
    - it was at the end of a road trip
    - even if the Bucks are only a 40-win-team (which I am beginning to doubt), they sure are playing better than that right now
    - Dallas has the 4th best point differential right now, which strongly suggests that they are not much weaker than their record indicates.

  • Kevin

    didn’t know that about the point differential, maybe i’m just overreacting. i get nervous when it takes til the 3rd quarter to put away the twolves though. they’re godawful