You know the drill. The Difference is a quick-hitting (or in this case, day after) reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.
- 12 it is. The streak had to stop somewhere, and unfortunately it folded along with an early 20-point Dallas lead. The Mavs should have had this win squared away, but the inevitable Bucks run was far more damaging than anyone could have anticipated. Dallas’ offense came and went, but it was the defensive concessions in the third quarter that marked the Mavs’ fate. Despite being the worst offensive team in the league, the Bucks shot 61.1% (including 75% from three) and attempted 11 free throws in the third, putting up 32 and completely tilting the game in the process. Brandon Jennings’ 10 points and three assists in the third led the Bucks, but Chris Douglas-Roberts’ seven points (on 2-2 FG and 3-4 FT) were just as instrumental. Both players made incredible plays, but their success was allowed by a defense that failed to protect the paint, fouled too often, and ceded the three-point line.
- Andrew Bogut (21 points, 10-12 FG, 14 rebounds, two blocks) was absolutely tremendous, and he brutalized the Mavs’ interior defense. Neither Tyson Chandler nor Brendan Haywood could effectively defend or box out Bogut, and yet the Bucks center’s offensive impact still paled in comparison to his defensive influence. Bogut only recorded two blocks, but he seemingly altered every attempt in the paint. He made the drives of Jason Terry and J.J. Barea particularly uncomfortable, but his defense was more far-reaching than merely challenging layups. Hands down the best player on the floor.
- That would mark one of the first times during the Mavs’ win streak that such an honor wasn’t bestowed on Dirk Nowitzki (30 points, 12-24 FG, 3-6 3FG, seven rebounds). Dirk was his typically magnificent self, but even Nowitzki’s terrific offensive night and nice defensive effort stood dwarfed by Bogut’s two-way dominance. It seems silly to ask more of Dirk than the 30 points on 50% shooting he so skillfully offered, but that’s what Dallas needed. Those four points needed to come from somewhere, and while Caron Butler (4-11 FG), Jason Terry (3-8 FG), and Brendan Haywood (0-4 FT, after Scott Skiles opted to intentionally foul Haywood in the fourth) provide easy scapegoats, Nowitzki has conditioned us to expect the improbable. This is the first time in six games that Nowitzki shot only 50% from the field. In four of those six contests he shot at least 66.7%. Dirk has been on an unearthly tear, but was unfortunately mortal on just a few too many attempts tonight.
- The ball movement in this one should be a point of pride for the Mavs, as they totaled 28 assists on 37 field goals. Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, and J.J. Barea all had some inspired finds, and though the offense peaked in the first quarter, all three ball-handlers continued to work for optimal shot attempts. There were faulty judgment calls all around, but the positives of Dallas’ passing far outweighed any potential negatives. Turnovers can be costly — and they occasionally were, such as Bogut’s steal and go-ahead dunk with 5:37 remaining in the fourth quarter — but the Mavs’ offense performed at a respectable level in spite of their miscues.