Poor Defense, lack of bench production lead to Bucks’ loss to Mavericks

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courtesy: Mary Langenfeld – USA TODAY Sports

Author: Nick Osen
MILWAUKEE – After the hottest month of March in NBA history, the scorching hot Milwaukee Bucks played host to the up and down Dallas Mavericks to open up April. Milwaukee came in with 14 wins in their last 17 games, but would lose to Dallas in a tight one, 109-105.

With the Bucks on the hot streak coming in, Dallas was absolutely on fire to start off the game. The Mavericks started shooting a perfect 7 of 7 from the field, including two deep threes from Dirk Nowitzki. This led to an 18-11 Dallas lead, as Coach Kidd called an early timeout for Milwaukee.

The Mavs weren’t the only ones starting the night hot, though. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 10 points on 5/7 in the first quarter, to go along with four rebounds and three assists, including a beautiful bullet find to Tony Snell for three.

After twelve minutes of play, Dallas led 31-28.

The Mavericks kept up their high-scoring play early in the second, scoring 12 points in less than four minutes, leading to another Kidd timeout with his team trailing 43-36.

The remainder of the first half was pretty competitive, with the Bucks leading the second quarter scoring and tying the contest up at 51 at the break. Nowitzki and Antetokounmpo led their teams with 12 points and 14 points in the first two quarters, respectively.

Milwaukee came out firing in the second half, and looked more like the playoff team that they are, at least on the offensive end. Gary Payton II got his first minutes as a Buck, getting on the board quickly with a three and an athletic throwdown.

For at least the first three quarters, Dallas held their own against a hot, playoff-bound Milwaukee team with still a lot to play for. Heading into the final quarter, the home squad Bucks led 78-75 after another intense 12 minutes.

Harrison Barnes was the leading scorer for the Mavericks in the third, scoring 10 to bring his total up to 16 for the game.

Dallas went on a 10-2 run in the first two minutes of the fourth, and took the lead 85-80 after a deep three from JJ Barea. Milwaukee would battle back, as this contest became yet another nail-biter for the Bucks’ faithful fans at the Bradley Center.

Barnes heated up in the third quarter, but really took over in the final period, scoring 15 of his team’s 34 points in the fourth, including a dagger stepback as the shot clock went down with under a minute left in the game.

Antetokounmpo put together another terrific performance with a near triple-double of 31 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists, but the lack of bench production and poor defense led to the loss for the Bucks.

Milwaukee still holds a full-game lead over Atlanta for the fifth spot in the East, and will travel to Oklahoma City on Tuesday to face MVP-candidate Russell Westbrook and the Thunder as the end of the regular season nears.