The Mavericks lost four straight from Dec. 17-23—their longest skid in more than three years—but have since posted two strong victories.
Following a 111-103 win at Sacramento on Christmas Day, Dallas returned home Saturday to beat Memphis 104-98.
The four-game slide dropped the Mavs into fourth place in the Midwest Division. They remain in that spot, but could soon be moving up the standings with four of the next six games at home, where the team is 13-2 this season.
“This is a good time of year for us,” Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki said. “We need to turn it on. Everyone says it’s early, but it’s not.”
Nowitzki has bounced back from his worst outing of the season to post season highs in each of the last two games.
The 7-footer had just six points in a 97-88 loss at Portland last Tuesday, but scored a season-best 31 points against the Kings before finishing with 18 points and a season-high 17 rebounds in Saturday’s win.
Antoine Walker has fallen two assists shy of a triple-double in each of the last two games, averaging 18 points and 11 rebounds.
The Mavs have been locked in from 3-point range since snapping their losing streak, hitting 24 of 49 shots from behind the arc. They were 11-of-20 Saturday and are now shooting 33.8 percent from 3-point range this season.
“It’s something we can’t rely on but the 3-point shot has to be a weapon,” said guard Michael Finley, who hit five of his seven 3-point attempts against Memphis.
The Mavs are 6-3 against Eastern Conference foes this season and dominated them last season with a 26-4 record. Two of those losses came to Milwaukee— the only team in 2002-03 to sweep a season series with Dallas.
These teams meet again Friday at the Bradley Center.
The Bucks had a three-game win streak snapped and lost for just the third time in nine games with an 89-74 defeat at San Antonio on Sunday.
Michael Redd scored 22 points to lead Milwaukee, which is ninth in the league with a 94.7 scoring average but was held to its lowest output of the season against the NBA’s best defensive team.
“We stuck with them … The thing we didn’t do tonight is pass the ball,” said Redd, whose team had 16 assists. “Give them credit, they took advantage of the situation.”
Milwaukee has lost five of six on the road.
STANDINGS (through Dec. 28): Bucks - 5th place, 5 1/2 GB, Central Division. Mavericks - 4th place, 3 1/2 GB, Midwest Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Bucks - Redd, 21.9 ppg; Smith, 9.2 rpg; Ford, 6.6 apg. Mavericks - Nowitzki, 19.2 ppg; Walker, 9.7 rpg; Nash, 7.8 apg.
2002-03 SEASON SERIES: Bucks, 2-0.
LAST MEETING: Feb. 12; Bucks, 120-114. At Milwaukee, Ray Allen—now with Seattle—had 28 points and Thomas added 27 for the Bucks, who scored 65 second-half points.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Bucks - 5-11 on the road; Mavericks - 13-2 at home.