Dallas had two chances to tie or win the game in the final seconds.
The first time the ball was in Luka Doncic‘s hands, and when the double-team came Doncic found Trey Burke for a clean look at a game-winning three. He missed, but the rebound caromed right to Willie Cauley-Stein. Rather than call a timeout and/or get the ball back to Doncic (who had 28 points on the night), Cauley-Stein handed off to Burke, who drove baseline and kicked it out to Kristaps Porzingis for an off-balance three that missed. Ballgame.
Watch Doncic’s reaction. He was angry.
Luka appeared frustrated after the Mavs weren't able to get a bucket. pic.twitter.com/TmUmIFl7eo
— ESPN (@espn) January 16, 2021
At the end of a tight game, get the ball in the hands of your best player, let him make the decision. Dallas didn’t do that.
After the game, Doncic wisely refused to discuss the play and his feelings, saying if he had something to say to coach Rick Carlisle that would be between them. Carlise was asked about the play and said he didn’t want Milwaukee to set it’s defense, via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.
“Look, we got two good shots and we preserved a timeout,” Carlisle said. “As a coach, that’s all you can hope for in that situation.”
We can debate the point about how good Porzingis’ look was, but Carlisle is right that Milwaukee is an excellent defense, and letting them reset may not have led to a better shot.
Either way, this is the kind of thing that blows over quickly in a locker room. Dallas has been playing well of late, and a few more wins put this kind of thing far behind them.