Mavericks defeat Bucks for 4th straight win
DALLAS (AP) -- Dirk Nowitzki went over 23,000 career points without having to play too much for the surging Dallas Mavericks.
The defending NBA champions are finally on a roll.
Nowitzki became the 23rd NBA player to score 23,000 points before he and the rest of the Dallas starters sat on the bench the entire fourth quarter in a 102-76 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night. The Mavericks have won four in a row.
"Milestones are going to be great when I look back on my career in 10 or 15 years," Nowtitzki said. "But as of right now, I'm trying to help this team, and franchise, win as many games as I can. We've been playing better. That's all I'm worried about right now."
The Mavericks (7-5) started the season with lopsided losses at home on consecutive days nearly three weeks ago, then lost their first road game for an 0-3 start.
They have since won five in a row at home. They matched their season high in scoring against the Bucks, who had the lowest-scoring game by a Dallas opponent.
"The first two games were poor to say the least. After that, we were all embarrassed. We had to bounce back and kind of snap out of it," coach Rick Carlisle said. "We were in a two-game whatever you call it, hangover, Christmas funk. Reality hit us really quickly. ... It helped us get our mindset in the right direction. We came out fighting after that."
Jason Terry scored 17 points off the bench to lead the Mavs while starter Vince Carter had 16 for his highest-scoring game in Dallas. Roddy Beaubois had 15.
Nowitzki, a 10-time All-Star, has played all 1,005 of his career games over 14 seasons for Dallas.
He hit the milestone with 7:17 left in the first half. He played only 22 minutes and finished with 11 points, putting him at 23,008, third among active players behind Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett.
Brandon Jennings had 19 points and Shaun Livingston 15 for the Bucks (4-7), who are undefeated at home but now have an NBA-high seven road losses.
"We've been very energetic at home, but we board the plane and we're half-asleep out there," coach Scott Skiles said.
Milwaukee was without 7-foot center Andrew Bogut, who was out because of concussion-like symptoms.
Bogut fell backward and hit the back of his head on the floor while taking a charge during Thursday night's victory over Detroit. Skiles said Bogut failed a pregame check for concussion symptoms and was ruled out in accordance with the league's concussion policy.
With the Mavericks playing again at home Saturday night, before going to the West Coast to start a four-game road trip over six days, their starters got extended rest late with the game out of reach.
Carter had 11 of his 16 points while making his first five shots in the first 6 minutes of the game.
"I was just trying to give our team a little life at the start," Carter said. "You have to hit first because we've seen teams hit us first and it's effective."
Carter, the 13th-year pro that signed with Dallas last month, had a slam dunk on the opening possession. He had a driving layup, another slam and a 3-pointer before a reverse layup with 5:36 left in the first quarter put the Mavs up 18-13.
Dallas pushed ahead 74-47 on a 3-pointer by Nowitzki that capped a 14-0 run over a 4-minute span early in the third quarter before Jennings made a jumper.
The Bucks had a spurt of 10 consecutive points to get to 77-61 with 2:18 left in the third quarter. That was the closest they got.
After Rick Carlisle called a timeout, Terry had a steal. He missed the breakaway layup, but Roddy Beaubois had a follow slam that started a 13-2 spurt. By the time Terry ended that run with a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter, Dallas led 90-63.
"They made a lot of shots, they got a big lead and they never looked back," Jennings said. "We've got to get a least one road win. Geez."
NOTES: Dallas led 60-45 at halftime, its highest-scoring half this season. ... Jason Kidd (lower back) missed his fourth consecutive game for Dallas, but is expected to play Saturday night. ... The 16 points by Carter were well short of his career high of 51. ... Bogut just returned Tuesday after missing four games to fly home to Australia to deal with a personal matter. The Bucks have now lost all five games he's missed.