With just under three minutes to go, the Dallas Mavericks caught a break when the Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo fouled out after fouling Tim Hardaway Jr. on a three-pointer. At the time, the Bucks led 102-101.
Unfortunately for the Mavericks, Hardaway Jr. missed all three free throws.
With under 30 seconds left in the fourth, Luka Doncic made a finger roll that gave the Mavs a 105-104 lead.
After Dallas got a stop on defense, that free throw issue would plague them again as Dorian Finney-Smith missed two free throws.
Ultimately, Brook Lopez would have wide open alley opp layup with 07.9 seconds left. Dallas would have one last chance, but Doncic’s three was off at the buzzer, and Milwaukee would defeat the Mavs 106-105 at American Airlines Center.
With the loss, the Mavs’ three-game winning streak is over.
Dallas was 10/24(42%) from the free throw line, including six straight misses in the final 3:41 of the game and eight misses in the fourth quarter; those missed free throws cost this team in the end.
“If you’re shooting 42%, that’s not very good, 10-for-24,” Mavs head coach Jason Kidd said. “In a one-point ballgame, the small things matter. I think in the fourth, we were 7-for-15. So, we’re getting to the line, especially there late. We’ve got to step up. We do practice free throws all the time, and it’s a part of the game. It’s just unfortunate we didn’t make them at the right time.”
Doncic, who had a game-high 33 points to go with six rebounds and a game-best 11 assists, but was 4/10 from the line, added on the free throw woes: “I think we’ve just got to practice, and me the first one. I’ve got to set the tempo for my teammates. They look to me. If I have energy, then they have energy. It starts with me. Got to make the free throws. It’s a free shot; no one is guarding you, so you just got to take your time and knock it in.”
Lopez getting wide open on the game-winning layin was also unacceptable for the Mavs. It appeared there was a mixup between Maxi Kleber and Finney-Smith that allowed Lopez to spring open.
Doncic is unsure what happened.
“I don’t know, man,” he said about Lopez getting open. “We just got to go back and look at it. Obviously, that can’t happen – an open layup. We’ve just got to go back and look at what happened and look at what went wrong.”
According to Finney-Smith, he was the one who messed up.
“I should have switched it,’ he said. “We’ve got to call that. That’s on me. Especially being a defender, I should have let go on the free throws and stayed in the moment, but they made a good play.”
According to Kidd, there was not supposed to be a switch.
“Yeah, it was a breakdown defensively. Give them credit. They ran a great play and got an easy look. They set a great screen, great pass. Give them credit.”
The breakdown on defense and bad free throw shooting cost the Mavericks. Fortunately or unfortunately, they will play in less than 24 hours as they head on the road to battle the Bulls on Saturday night and what Kidd calls a “doubleheader.”
It should be interesting to see how much energy they’ll have on the second half of a back-to-back.