Struggles aside, the Milwaukee Bucks still managed to show their strength.
Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 31 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, Eric Bledsoe added 21 and Malcolm Brogdon chipped in 19 as the Bucks managed to hold the Dallas Mavericks at arm’s length in a 116-106 victory Monday afternoon at Fiserv Forum.
The Mavericks (20-26) succeeded at being physical preventing the Bucks from dominating them, but the Bucks managed to win their fifth straight and 16th in 19 games. All five games in the winning streak have been by double-digit margins.
Luka Doncic posted his first career triple-double with 18 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, but the Bucks got a big game from their five starters.
Center Brook Lopez posted his first double-double in a Milwaukee uniform, collecting 16 points, 10 rebounds five blocked shots. Khris Middleton chipped in 13 points and eight rebounds to round out the starting five. Lopez also collected six blocks in Saturday’s 118-108 victory at Orlando.
Dallas outscored the Bucks, 33-22, in the second quarter to take a 59-57 lead at the half, as the Bucks went just 4 for 15 on 3-pointers. Lopez was 3 for 5, leaving the rest of the Bucks’ roster at 1 for 10 on threes.
Sterling Brown changed that in the third quarter, making all three of the 3-pointers he attempted. The Bucks went 6 for 10 as a team in the third and took a 92-84 lead into the third. Brown finished with 11 points on 4-of-4 shooting.
The Bucks, a league-best 34-12, pushed the lead to as big as 104-87 on Bledsoe’s hoop with 7:12 left, but the Mavericks came back with an 11-0 run.
What the Bucks lacked in aesthetics, they made up for in grit. After Doncic’s 3-point play pulled Dallas within 106-101 with 3:05 left, Bledsoe set a workingman’s pick on Dallas shot-blocker DeAndre Jordan, freeing Antetokounmpo to drive the lane for a driving slam dunk with 2:49 left. Two Bledsoe free throws with 2:03 left made it 110-101, and the Mavericks never got closer than seven the rest of the way.
Dallas shot just 41.4% (41 for 99). Rookie Jalen Brunson contributed 16 points, and Jordan and Wesley Matthews each chipped in 15.