First Impressions On Mavs' Loss At Milwaukee

The story of the game isn't really the game. will have wall-to-wall coverage of Caron Butler's knee injury sustained in Milwaukee – the medical issues and the long-ranging affects. But in this space, the Mavs' 99-87 loss to the Bucks … and First Impressions:

*Coming into the game the Mavs were already without Dirk Nowitzki (strained right knee) and Shawn Marion (out this night and day-to-day with a thigh contusion), and by the end of the first period they would also be without Caron Butler, who left with a right knee injury.

Showing a lot of heart, the outcome of Saturday night's game remained in doubt until the final minutes, but the Mavs could not overcome their injuries, or the Milwaukee Bucks, in a loss – the third in a row for Dallas.

*With 2:47 still on the clock in the first quarter, the Mavs called a timeout as Caron Butler lay on the floor writhing in obvious pain. There had been no substantial contact on the previous play when Butler attacked the paint and planted to rise for an offensive rebound attempt.

The instant he popped off the ground it was apparent something had gone wrong. Caron yelled in anguish while raising his injured right knee towards his chest before coming back to the ground. Once on the floor, the picture didn't improve.

"We're afraid that it's potentially serious," coach Rick Carlisle said of Butler's injury after the game. has gotten word that while the rest of the team travels off to Cleveland for a Sunday game, Butler is to remain in his native Wisconsin tonight and then will return to Dallas on Sunday for an MRI.

And again, this wasn't good from the start. When you see a player with the toughness of Butler gripping a teammate's ankle as a method to fight away the hurt, you don't come away with a positive feeling. On FS Southwest's postgame show, Fish mentioned the possibility of a dislocated kneecap.

*Finding silver linings, subtle consolation, or the light waiting at the end of the tunnel is fading further and further from reach.

On Thursday in a loss against the Spurs, Caron Butler scored 30 points as Jason Kidd filled up the boxscore at his side with a triple-double.

Against the Bucks, playing without their leading scorer Brandon Jennings, it was JJ Barea's turn to carry the offense with a career-high 29 points … and again, Jason Kidd doing everything possible beside him.

With too little help, the result was the same.

*"It's tough right now, but that's how it is in this league. We got to keep going," Carlisle stated in an all-business demeanor after the game. "We got some other guys that are certainly capable and they've got to step up and play well for us."

He may have not intended this comment for any single player, but one who must find his game is Jason Terry.

After shooting 3-of-16 against the Spurs Thursday night, Terry gave an encore of 3-of-15 against the Bucks. Over two games, that's a shooting percentage of 19.3-percent when his team desperately needed his contributions.

Is it time to worry?

Terry is now shooting 43.2-percent for the season, the lowest rate he's converted his shots as a member of the Mavs … just beneath last season's 43.8-percent.

He's seen slumps, and for the majority of this season he's been able to set them aside when the chips were down in the fourth quarter.

Well, now the chips are down … from the opening tip on.

The Mavs need Terry to find his mojo, and they need it immediately.

*Going back to those who did show up: JJ Barea and Jason Kidd.

Barea set a new career-high with 29 points and almost single handedly kept the Mavs offense afloat for long stretches, including scoring 16 in the second quarter alone to help erase a 13-point deficit to walk into the half down only two.

Barea was everywhere, hitting an early three and sliding his way into the paint repeatedly. Regardless of your feelings for Barea, on this night, he came up huge for his team. You may note a few key misses late, but to hold this against him would ignore the fact that those shots only mattered because he'd ensured they would with his performance to that point.

*Kidd flirted with a triple-double again, and even sent whispers of the difficult to find quadruple-double.

He finished with 14 points, nine assists, seven rebounds, six steals and one block … all while acting as the best defender on the floor for either team.

With his incredible display of will and floor stewardship, and Barea's impact, this was a game the Mavs had a great chance to pull out.

Instead, they (Kidd and Barea) were left waiting for their help to arrive.

*DeShawn Stevenson has found the worst possible time endure a mini-slump. Over the Mavs three game losing streak, he is only 2-of-12 behind the arc … a huge departure from what we've come to expect this season, where he came into Saturday as the league's second most efficient three-point shooter by hitting 49-percent of his attempts.

*Ian Mahinmi was also unavailable for a stretch in this game after taking an inadvertent elbow to the head from Corey Maggette, opening a cut that would require four stitches to close.

Mahinmi would return to the game.

*After not getting off of the bench in the Spurs game, Brendan Haywood played just under ten minutes.

Unfortunately, his most notable moments of impact came via a questionable technical foul assessed for pushing Andrew Bogut as he fell out of bounds, and when Milwaukee once again turned to the "Knock on Wood" tactic in the third quarter … to which he responded by going 1-of-4 from the line before being quickly pulled from the game.

*It seemed like Milwaukee was destined to be the first team this season to shoot at or above 50-percent against the improved Dallas defense, who was playing without one of its biggest contributors in Shawn Marion.

But, in a stat that rings completely hollow, they finished at 49.4-percent.

*We noted Barea's superb night above, unfortunately for the Mavs, the only guy shorter than Barea on the court was able to counter this.

Earl Boykins, fresh off a one-game suspension for contact with a referee, put up a season- and team-high 26.

In a unique showdown, the 5-5 Boykins and the 6-0 (a very generous measurement) Barea led their respective teams in a duel of the vertically challenged.

Honestly, if you stacked Barea and Boykins on top of each other and asked the top man to hold the rim as high as he could, Tyson Chandler could still dunk through it.

*In their first meeting this season, Milwaukee ended a Dallas 12-game winning streak. This time, they extended a losing streak to three.

The new year has not started the way most of us would have envisioned only a few games ago, and the injuries can't be an excuse. Opponents in the NBA will show no pity for a banged up Mavs team, just have the Mavs would show them none.

Regardless of the constraints binding this team, the losses will look the same at the end of the year … and Sunday night, against a struggling Cleveland team, must be taken as an opportunity to discard the hurt of these past three games and right the ship.

This is still a good team – we think. Now they must set about proving it all over again.

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