Dallas (24-17) at Milwaukee (20-24)

Cloudy Currently: Milwaukee, WI
Temp: 57° F
  • Game info: 8:00 pm EST Wed Jan 21, 2009
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The Dallas Mavericks have already gotten off to a better start on their current road trip than their previous one, thanks in large part to Dirk Nowitzki, who has come up big in their last two games.

Nowitzki and the Mavericks continue their four-game trip Wednesday as they go for their third straight win in a matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Dallas (24-17) lost all three games of a road trip against Western Conference foes from Jan. 9-13 as part of a four-game losing streak. It opened its current trip against the East - a swing that includes games against Detroit and Boston - with a 95-93 victory over Philadelphia on Monday.

“(The win) is big because this is the first game of our road trip,” Jason Kidd said. “Our last road trip we got off to a bad start. This gives us confidence on the road to beat a quality time like Philadelphia. … For us to win this afternoon gives us confidence starting off on the right foot.”

Nowitzki led Dallas with 24 points and while he was 7-of-23 from the field, he hit the winning shot on a turnaround 17-foot jumper at the buzzer.

Nowitzki was coming off a 39-point performance in which he shot 16-of-20 in a 115-108 win over Utah on Saturday.

“He’s done it all year,” said Kidd, who went 6-of-8 from 3-point range Monday and finished with 22 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. “He’s an All-Star and an MVP and he enjoys these moments.”

The Mavericks also received a boost from the return of forward Josh Howard, who had missed four games with a sprained wrist. He had 10 points, eight rebounds and four steals in 34 minutes.

“A lot of people want to write us off but we have a lot of guys that are hanging in and sticking together,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We’ll move on and get ready to fight the next one.”

While Carlisle is feeling optimistic, frustration is being felt in Milwaukee, as the Bucks (20-24) have lost back-to-back games after alternating losses and wins over the previous 12 contests.

Milwaukee is coming off a 102-85 defeat to Portland on Monday. Richard Jefferson and Charlie Villanueva each scored 23 points but the Bucks, who were without leading rebounder Andrew Bogut (back spasms) for a third straight game, were beaten 58-30 on the boards.

“We were dominated on the glass from beginning to end,” coach Scott Skiles said. “We need to see our guys at least be conscious and trying to put their bodies on people.”

Bogut, averaging 11.8 points and 10.4 rebounds, has missed seven of the last 10 games because of back problems. Before he started to struggle with the injury, Milwaukee had been the fourth-best rebounding team in the NBA, averaging 43.4 boards in the first 34 games.

Since then, the Bucks have been one of the worst, averaging 35.2 in 10 games.

“We just haven’t been consistent,” Jefferson said. “The last couple of weeks we’ve struggled. … We’ve established we are going to play hard every single night, it’s about getting that mental edge and competing on a higher level.”

Dallas and Milwaukee split their two meetings last season with each winning at home.

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Wednesday, Jan 21