Bucks ride second half surge to defeat shorthanded Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks, Jalen Brunson
Dallas Mavericks, Jalen Brunson / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks were without ten players as they lost to the Milwaukee Bucks 102-95 on Dec. 23. Superstar Luka Doncic was one of seven players out in the health and safety protocols. Kristaps Porzingis and Eugene Omoruyi were sidelined with injuries as Willie Cauley-Stein was out for personal reasons.

The Mavs signed six replacement players over the last six days to be able to play, and five of them were in the rotation against the Bucks. It was all hands on deck as a COVID outbreak wreaks havoc on their roster. Dallas was without their top three scorers and six regular rotation players.

The Mavericks used a balanced approach and fought hard, but they just did not have enough to pick up the win. Milwaukee was without Giannis Antetokounmpo, but Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton, and the recently signed DeMarcus Cousins led the way at the American Airlines Center. Here is a closer look at the Mavs performance and what to expect moving forward.

Bucks ride second-half surge to defeat shorthanded Dallas Mavericks

Fans knew the Mavs were up against it on Thursday night. The team was hoping Luka Doncic would return after missing five games with an ankle injury, but he entered the health and safety protocols on Dec. 22. With Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. also out, Dallas needed multiple players to step up to have a chance to defeat one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.

Jalen Brunson led the way on Thursday night as he finished with 19 points, eight assists, and four rebounds in 38 minutes. He shot seven of 15 from the field, and his scoring has not slowed down, despite taking over as the number one option for the last two games.

Dallas had all five starters and six players in double-figures against Milwaukee, but no player was spectacular. The Mavs spread the ball around and simplified their schemes with so many new players on the roster. Marquese Chriss had 13 points, five rebounds, and two steals in 13 minutes on Thursday night before being ejected for picking up his sixth foul.

The Mavericks had the lead at halftime, but the Bucks poured it on in the second half. Dallas gave up 34 in the third and struggled to score in the fourth in the loss. It was odd seeing the Mavs so shorthanded, but there was no quit in the players on the floor.

The loss puts Dallas at 15-16 on the season, and it does not get easier as the Mavericks are in Utah to face the Jazz on Christmas Day. Luka Doncic and Tim Hardaway Jr. are both likely to miss the holiday contest. Will the Mavs be able to pull the upset? Tune in to find out.

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