It took four games, but the Dallas Mavericks were able to finally secure their first road victory of the season Saturday night against the Milwaukee Bucks. And it’s a good thing that teams aren’t granted style points for a win, because Dallas won ugly.
The Mavericks showed their Jekyll and Hyde over the course of the night against Milwaukee.
They made the game look easy in the first half as they shot 50 percent from the field and took a 15-point lead to intermission.
The third quarter saw the Mavs score a season-low 13 points as the poise they showed in the opening half faded. Dallas had eight turnovers in the first half, but produced five in the third quarter alone.
The disparity has been a consistent trend in the early portion of the season. Dallas has been able to secure victories mainly due to its high-octane offense. The Mavericks have shot 48 percent from the field and 41.6 percent from 3-point range while averaging 110.8 points in their four wins.
The stats are quite different in the losses. Dallas has shot 42.9 percent from the field and 38.9 percent from long distance in its three defeats.
The win-loss story remains the same on the defensive end of the floor.
After the victory in Milwaukee, opponents are shooting 43.4 percent from the field and 36.2 percent from 3-point range and have scored 98.8 points when Dallas wins. Foes are shooting .490 from the field and .387 from distance and scoring 112 points when Dallas loses.
The numbers also are concerning in the rebounding department, as Dallas is plus-5 on the glass in victories and minus-0.3 in losses.
As a breath of fresh air, the defense came through in a big way Saturday, as Dallas held Milwaukee to a season-low 38.3 percent shooting from the field and forced 20 turnovers.
“We had been struggling defensively on the road in the first three games,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle told reporters. “Tonight we knew we had to make a stand and we had to do things a lot better.
“The guys really made a stand tonight.”
That effort was evident down the stretch, as Dallas forced former Mavs shooting guard O.J. Mayo into five turnovers in the fourth quarter after he had only one in the first three.
Dallas had four timely steals in the final frame that really helped shift control in its favor.
“Those were momentum-changers,” Carlisle said. “They were making a run and had it down to two points. It was a couple of defensive plays that helped us take back momentum.”
Momentum is going to be something the Mavs will need to build on. They have a difficult early schedule, as seven of their 16 back-to-backs come within the first five weeks of the season.
It remains to be seen whether that front-loaded schedule will help or hurt the Mavs as they try to incorporate new players into the mix.
Either way, Carlisle remains optimistic.
“I like this team. I like our guys,” Carlisle told reporters. “I believe we’re going to continue to get better, but it’s going to be work. We’ve got to continue to build chemistry.”
Chemistry will be a necessity. Consistency will be just as important.