This time the basketball gods were not on Deron Williams’ side.
With the Dallas Mavericks trailing the Milwaukee Bucks by one point Friday night at the Bradley Center, Williams pulled up for a 17-footer as time expired.
The jump shot, however, bounced harmlessly off the rim as the Bucks held on to edge the Mavs 96-95 before a crowd of 16,409.
The loss dropped the Mavs to 21-16 on the season and 1-1 on this three-game road trip that ends with Sunday’s game in Minnesota. Milwaukee improved to 15-23.
On Tuesday, Williams made a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer as the Mavs beat the Sacramento Kings in double overtime. But no such favor was handed down to Williams on Friday.
“We got a good look for the win — D-Will with a good up-fake and a one-dribble pull-up,” forward Dirk Nowitzki said. “I’ll take that all day. It just didn’t go.”
Before the final attempt by Williams, Bucks guard Khris Middleton hit a running 6-foot bank shot for the game’s final points with just 9.1 seconds left. A faux pas by Nowitzki set that play up.
The Mavs were clinging to a 95-94 lead — and had possession of the ball — with 31.6 seconds remaining. But Nowitzki’s entry pass to Zaza Pachulia was batted away by John Henson, and Middleton darted down the floor for the game-winning runner.
“That was a bad turnover on my part there when we were up one,” said Nowitzki, who scored a team-high 20 points. “They kept coming on the low side all night long on that post-up.
“I saw Zaza flashing there and I thought I could get it to him in the lane and he could swing it maybe for a good shot on the weak side. But Henson’s long and he got his arm on it, and so that was a bad turnover.”
It was a night of missteps by the Mavs, who committed 10 of their 16 turnovers in the first half when they trailed 55-39 at intermission.
The Bucks used their athleticism to whip the Mavs in the paint, outscoring them 56-32. The Mavericks also took a lot of 3-point shots.
Overall, the Mavs were just 14-of-44 from 3-point territory. It’s the most 3-pointers attempted in an NBA game by one team other than the Houston Rockets since 2012.
“It’s the nature of the game,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “There was a lot of double-teaming by them early; we had some looks.
“There were some long rebounds that led to multiple 3-point attempt possessions. I can’t control how many 3s we get off each game.”
The Mavs had no control of the game early as they committed five turnovers in the first eight minutes after tying the franchise low with just four turnovers during a 10-point win over the Bucks 12 days ago.
“The early turnovers were our undoing in the game,” Carlisle said. “We had seven [turnovers] for 10 points in the first quarter and 10 [turnovers] for 15 points in the first half.
“That really puts you up against a team that thrives off turnovers.”
Dallas fell behind 45-28 with 4:43 left in the second quarter after a dunk by Henson.
Devin Harris, who attended college at Wisconsin, scored a season-high 19 points. And Pachulia, who used to play for the Bucks, contributed nine points and a game-high 15 rebounds.
But the Mavs looked so disjointed in the first half, and it wound up costing them in the end.
“The first half we came out very soft and we were just out there showing up,” Pachulia said. “We weren’t playing basketball.
“Defensive, no energy. Very soft. Offensively, we weren’t sharing the ball. It was very individual basketball. I’m disappointed because that’s not our personality, and that’s not how we play.’’
Mavericks at Timberwolves
4 p.m. Sunday, FSSW