As soon as Vince Carter ended a Dallas scoring drought of almost four minutes by drilling a 3-pointer, he turned to the Mavericks bench and twirled his right index finger.
The message: Keep the ball coming to him.
The Mavs did just that. And Carter definitely delivered, scoring 13 of Dallas’ final 17 points to carry the Mavs to the 115-108 win over the Bucks.
“I felt in a groove and the basket just seemed extremely big,” Carter told reporters after his 23-point performance. “I felt comfortable with my shot. I was just in the flow of the game.”
Correction: Carter dictated the flow of the game down the stretch. He was 4-of-6 from the floor in the final 5:31, including three 3-pointers and a high-degree-of-difficulty driving lefty layup.
“Vince was spectacular again,” Dirk Nowitzki told reporters. “The shots he made – the 3s, behind the screen, off the dribble, hanging-in-the-air, lefty, wraparound layup – just phenomenal down the stretch. He really took the game over for us and really won it.”
This sort of performance from the 36-year-old sixth man doesn’t come as a surprise. The Mavs count on Carter to put up the kind of numbers that could merit serious Sixth Man of the Year consideration.
Carter has five 20-plus-point performances in the last month. He’s hitting a career-best 41.5 percent of his 3-point attempts this season.
His numbers during the Mavs’ season-best-matching four-game win streak: 17.8 points per game, 23-of-40 from the floor (57.5 percent) and 13-of-19 from long range (68.4 percent).
“It’s just phenomenal,” Nowitzki said. “I think every time he shoots the 3 now, it’s going in. That opens up his drives and he’s still got strong legs and he’s still got some hops and some hang time in there and can make unbelievable plays.”
A few more notes from the Mavs’ win in Milwaukee:
1. Happy homecoming for Crowder: Jae Crowder had a bunch of big games at the Bradley Center while starring for Marquette. He made himself at home in his first NBA visit to Milwaukee, too.
Crowder snapped out of an offensive mini-slump with 14 points, one shy of his NBA high, on 6-of-9 shooting. He grabbed a season-best eight rebounds and played a productive 36 minutes, during which the Mavs outscored the Bucks by 14 points.
“I love this building,” Crowder told reporters. “I’ve played a lot of games here. I felt comfortable here and I felt comfortable with the game plan, and it just worked out for me.”
The love was mutual. The Bradley Center crowd welcomed Crowder back with warm applause when his name was announced with the starting lineup, as he filled in for Shawn Marion for the third consecutive game.
“He’s about all the right things – plays hard, into winning, team guy – so I was really happy for him coming home,” coach Rick Carlisle told reporters. “I told him after the game that I wish we could play all the games here.”
2. On point: Mike James put up season highs in points (13), assists (7) and rebounds (6) as the Mavs improved to 4-0 with him in the starting lineup.
Rodrigue Beaubois made the most of some rare non-garbage playing time, providing a spark when Darren Collison briefly left the game in the second quarter to get his left eye checked. Beaubois had all of his seven points and three assists during that frame, igniting the Mavs’ 15-0 run that gave them the lead for good.
Milwaukee’s Brandon Jennings, a soon-to-be restricted free agent who has expressed interest in coming to Dallas, didn’t make much of a case for the Mavs to pay him big money. Jennings was held to four points on 2-of-7 shooting and five assists. He sat out crunch time, as was the case in the Bucks’ Feb. 26 win in Dallas, when Jennings had eight points on 3-of-11 shooting and six assists.
3. Mighty Wright: Brandan Wright’s streak of four consecutive games scoring in double figures was snapped, but he made a major impact on the win over Milwaukee.
Wright played 33 minutes, getting the bulk of the playing time at center after starter Chris Kaman was benched a little more than two minutes into the game. Wright had nine points, eight rebounds, three blocks and a steal. The Mavs were plus-17 with Wright on the floor.