Allen scored 28 points and Thomas added a season-high 27 as the Milwaukee Bucks posted an exciting 120-114 victory over the Mavericks.
Sparked by Allen and Thomas, who combined to make 21-of-41 shots from the field and 9-of-18 from 3-point range, the Bucks completed a season sweep of the Mavericks. Last season, Dallas beat every team in the NBA.
“I don’t think anyone beat us twice last year,” Mavs coach Don Nelson said. “It has been a while since that happened.”
“It didn’t matter if we played man-to-man or zone, they still scored,” Nowitzki said. “We scored enough to win but it is hard to beat 120 points. It was a tough game for us.”
But despite the production from their three best players, the Mavs squandered an 11-point third-quarter lead, matched a season high with their third straight loss and fell to a mediocre 7-7 since a blistering 31-5 start.
While Allen and Thomas carried the Bucks, Sam Cassell was clutch down the stretch. With his club clinging to a one-point lead, Cassell drained a tough jumper over Nick Van Exel, giving the Bucks a 117-114 lead with 25 seconds remaining.
Instead of opting for a quick basket, the Mavs went for the tie and Nash and Finley misfired on 3-pointers. Cassell made 1-of-2 attempts from the line with 10 seconds left to seal it.
“It was a solid home win for us tonight,” Cassell said. “We gave ourselves a chance in the fourth quarter to win the ballgame and we got the win. We kept our heads up in the third quarter when they jumped to that lead. Tonight we moved the ball and hit out shots. It’s as simple as that.”
Toni Kukoc scored nine of his 14 points in a 16-4 run that gave thee Bucks their biggest lead at 110-100 with 5:15 to play. Kukoc had two 3-pointers and a three-point play in the spurt.
Milwaukee had plenty of looks all night from deep and converted on 12-of-29 attempts from 3-point range. Allen went 5-of-12 from beyond the arc.
“I don’t think Dallas is used to teams putting up points like we did tonight,” Allen said. “They have a lot of weapons. Dirk is so tough to guard because he’s so big and can shoot. Tonight we went to our big guy who could shoot in Toni Kukoc. Toni gave us a spark in the second half from the 3-point line.”
Anthony Mason added 14 points for the Bucks, who shot 54 percent (44-of-82).
LaFrentz contributed 10 points and eight rebounds for Dallas, which shot 49.5 percent (48-of-97) and committed just five turnovers.
With the most firepower in the NBA, the Mavs answered with a 14-5 run, capped by Van Exel’s driving layup to close to 115-114 with 49 seconds left. Nash had six points in the burst, including a tough fadeaway jumper from the right baseline.
But Cassell, who finished with 15 points and nine assists, provided the dagger with his jumper over Van Exel on the ensuing possession.
A running jumper by Nash, who went 10-of-21 from the field, gave the Mavs their biggest lead at 83-72 with 3:34 remaining in the third quarter before the Bucks began to fill it up.
Allen made two 3-pointers and Michael Redd also hit a shot from the arc in a 16-5 surge to close the quarter that tied the game at 88-88 entering the final period. Allen netted 14 of the Bucks’ 33 points in the quarter.
Allen went 10-of-23 from the floor and Thomas, who proved too athletic for the Dallas big men, went 11-of-18 from the floor. Thomas also stepped outside, making 3-of-6 attempts from the arc.