Even Dirk Nowitzki and Michael Finley couldn’t snap the Dallas Mavericks out of their recent slump. With their two stars back on the floor, the Mavericks will try to bounce back from another loss when they visit the Milwaukee Bucks.
Nowitzki (knee) and Finley (calf), Dallas’ top two scorers, each missed two games with injuries but returned for the Mavericks’ 100-95 home loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday. Nowitzki scored a team-high 25 points but shot just 6-of-19 and missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer with 11 seconds left.
Dallas, which is fourth in the Western Conference, has lost five of its last seven games.
Finley, who wore a long white sleeve on his left leg to protect his bruised calf, shot just 4-of-14 and finished with 12 points. Jerry Stackhouse, who is nursing a strained right groin, did not play and has missed 16 of the last 18 games. He is expected to be placed on the injured list.
Coach Don Nelson missed his first of three games to be with his wife, who is recovering from surgery.
Josh Howard had 18 points and 10 rebounds, but strained his left ankle when he was tangled up with the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant. Jason Terry, coming off consecutive 20-point performances, managed only 11 points on 5-of-17 shooting.
“We were getting some guys back that we wanted back, but they were just a little rusty tonight and it’s going to take some time,” acting coach Avery Johnson said. “We’ll get it together.”
The Bucks are coming off their second win in five games, a 105-101 victory over league-worst Atlanta on Tuesday. Mo Williams had 22 points and 10 assists for his sixth double-double of the season, and Desmond Mason also added 22 points for Milwaukee.
“I just want to come out every night and play well, be real solid for my ballclub and run the team,” said Williams, who went 9-of-13 from the field. “That’s one thing (Milwaukee coach) Terry Porter was barking on all game, to just penetrate and create looks for my teammates.”
Michael Redd shot just 9-of-24 but finished with 21 points for the Bucks, who trailed by 13 with 3:27 left in the first half. Milwaukee is 13th in the Eastern Conference, 4 1/2 games behind Indiana for the eighth and final playoff spot.
“We really settled for a lot of long jump shots,” Porter said. “As the game went on we did a much better job of finishing and driving, finding guys on the perimeter.”