DALLAS (AP) -- Even some defensive lapses couldn't prevent Dirk
Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks from winning their third straight
Nowitzki scored 39 points and Josh Howard scored 11 of his 25 in
the fourth quarter to lead Dallas past Milwaukee 123-104 on Sunday
But the Mavericks, who led by 22 early in the third, let the
Bucks cut their lead to eight after a lethargic fourth quarter.
"We had a defensive letdown and let them back into the game,"
said Nowitzki, who had his 11th 30-point game of the season. "It
should have been easier. But we'll take the win."
The Mavericks made 47 of 89 field goals (53 percent), including
14-of-25 from Nowitzki. Dallas equaled its season-high point total.
Despite their stellar shooting, the Mavericks didn't pull away
until the fourth quarter.
The Bucks trailed 88-80 after three quarters and were down 97-88
before Dallas took control with a 9-2 run. Howard, who finished one
point shy of his career high, capped the surge with a three-point
play that put the Mavericks ahead 106-90 with five minutes left.
Howard was a bright spot for Dallas, holding Milwaukee's Michael
Redd to 18 points, nearly five below his season average.
"He's our best defender, hands down." Nowitzki said of Howard.
"You can't really shut Michael Redd down, but he did a good job on
"We put ourselves in position to make a game out of it,"
Milwaukee coach Terry Porter said. "Then they went on a spurt
because of our inability to execute."
The Mavericks led 66-50 at halftime and scored the first six
points of the third quarter, but Milwaukee outscored Dallas 30-16
for the rest of the period.
"We were sporadic and not as sharp as we would like to be,"
Dallas coach Don Nelson said. "This is kind of how the game was.
It wasn't consistent enough for me."
The Mavericks, who scored 41 points in the first quarter Tuesday
night against the Boston Celtics, jumped out early again and took a
33-19 lead after the first.
"Giving up that many points in the first is not a good thing,"
Redd said. "But we were right there against a good team. But we
collapsed in the fourth quarter. When you have that against this
type of team, you're going to lose."
The Bucks crept within 45-38 midway through the second quarter
after a 12-0 run. But the Mavericks answered with a 10-0 spurt of
their own, which was capped by Nowitzki's dunk with 5:13 left.
Dallas' Jerry Stackhouse had 16 points off the bench and Erick
Dampier had 15 points before fouling out with 2:30 left.
^Notes:@ Dallas G Marquis Daniels missed his second straight game
with a sore left ankle. ... Milwaukee is 2-10 against the Western
Conference. ... Dallas C Shawn Bradley picked up four fouls in his
first three minutes of action after checking in with 4:14 left in
the third. ... Milwaukee F Desmond Mason, who grew up in nearby
Waxahachie, Texas, scored 12 points.
A road trip to Toronto has put Cleveland in a precarious spot, as the Raptors have shaved away the Cavs' margin for error in tying the series.
After being left for dead after the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Raptors follow up a big Game 3 victory with an equally impressive win in Game 4 to tie the series heading back to Cleveland.
LeBron James discusses the Cavaliers awful second quarter and how they can't allow themselves to fall so far behind.