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Mavericks-Bucks Preview

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The Milwaukee Bucks' injury report is in mid-season form. But so is their bench.

Coming off their best performance of the season, the Bucks aim to post consecutive wins for the first time in a 24-game stretch Saturday night when they host the Dallas Mavericks.

Milwaukee's reserves are combining for 49.8 points per game on 51.3 percent shooting through the first four games. And some of their top reserves either haven't been healthy or have been forced into starters' minutes.

The Bucks (2-2) received a season-low 34 bench points Wednesday in a 109-104 home win over Cleveland, but that production came from three players as the banged-up team went just eight deep.

"We were short-handed with no Larry Sanders, no Ersan (Ilyasova), Luke Ridnour and Brandon Knight,'' coach Larry Drew said. ''For those guys to come out and play like they did, I am very proud of them. I am very proud to coach this group. We've had to overcome a lot of adversity since the beginning of training camp, dealing with injuries and guys being out. We beat a very good basketball team tonight in Cleveland.''

Drew's team will try to win two straight for the first time since March 19 - a 24-game stretch including the postseason - after connecting on 50 percent of its shots, including 13 of 23 from 3-point range, against the Cavaliers.

Gary Neal scored 23 off the bench and hit 4 of 5 from long distance after starting the last two games and scoring a combined 22 points.

Knight has missed three straight after leaving the opener with a strained hamstring and will be a game-time decision Saturday. Ridnour hasn't been activated this season while dealing with a sore back and is not expected to play. Sanders (thumb) and Ilyasova (ankle) each missed their first game Wednesday.

O.J. Mayo, entering his first game against his former Dallas teammates, is coming off his best scoring night since Feb. 6. After coming off the bench for one game, he returned to the starting lineup against Cleveland and had 28 points while hitting 6 of 7 3-point attempts.

Center Zaza Pachulia made his first start and scored 10 of his 14 points at the foul line. It was his second 10-for-10 performance at the line, and he's 21 of 21 on the year, averaging 13.3 points in his first four games with the Bucks. He averaged 5.9 in 52 games last season for Atlanta.

The Mavericks (3-3) lost their second straight Friday, falling 116-108 at Minnesota and are winless in three road games. They are second in the league in scoring (109.7) but that has been offset by a defense that ranks second-to-last in the league in opponents' scoring (108.0).

"We couldn't get a stop,'' Jose Calderon said. "But it wasn't just the last three or four minutes, it was kind of the full fourth quarter we were just trading baskets with them. We couldn't get two in a row or three in a row."

Calderon scored a season-high 21 points on 6-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc.

Monta Ellis led the way with 23, but went 9 of 24 from the floor. He shot 53.1 percent in the Mavericks' 3-1 start and is shooting 41.5 percent in the two losses since.

The Mavericks and Bucks split two meetings last year with the road team winning each. Dallas won the last meeting 115-108 in Milwaukee on March 12.

Tagged: Mavericks, Bucks, Larry Sanders

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