DALLAS (AP)—Dirk Nowitzki passed his way to his first career triple-double.
Nowitzki had 29 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists as the Mavericks stretched their home winning streak to eight games with a 107-96 victory over the short-handed Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night.
“Getting the assist part of it has always been the problem,” Nowitzki said.
Not on this night. Nowitzki consistently passed out of double-teams to open teammates as he registered his first career game with double-digit assists.
“I’m seeing more double-teams than I ever have in my career,” Nowitzki said. “Before, teams played me more one-on-one, but my post game has gotten better so I’m seeing more double-teams and I’ve been able to find the open guys.”
Dallas’ last triple-double was by Antoine Walker on Jan. 14, 2004, against Philadelphia with 11 points, 17 rebounds and 13 assists.
Josh Howard, the beneficiary of many of Nowitzki’s assists, has seen his teammate grow as a passer.
“It was good to see,” Howard said. “Dirk’s really worked hard on his passing. For him to get a triple-double is well-deserved.”
J.J. Barea contributed 13 points for Dallas and teammate Erick Dampier pulled down 10 rebounds before missing the fourth quarter with a sprained right ankle.
Andrew Bogut had 24 points and 14 rebounds, and Charlie Villaneuva added 16 points for the Bucks, who were minus three key players as they lost for the fourth time in five games.
Villaneuva was ejected with 4 seconds left after throwing a wristband at Dallas’ Brandon Bass, who also received a technical on the play.
The Bucks were already without top scorer Michael Redd, who missed his sixth consecutive game with a strained left knee, and starting forward Yi Jianlian, sitting out his second consecutive game due to a strained right shoulder.
But Milwaukee gave Dallas a scare, going in front 77-75 with 10:21 left on Villaneuva’s basket.
Terry nailed a 3-pointer off Nowitzki’s 10th assist of the game to put Dallas ahead, and Terry fed Devean George for a layup with 9:31 left to give his team an 80-77 edge.
Terry’s trey sparked a 12-3 run that gave the Mavericks an 87-80 lead with 6:23 to play, but the Bucks rallied to tie it at 91 on Charlie Bell’s 3-pointer with 2:39 left.
Bass’s follow-dunk with 2:12 remaining put Dallas in front for good, and Terry’s dunk with 1:48 remaining extended the Mavericks’ lead to 95-91.
Back-to-back baskets by Nowitzki on Dallas’ next two possessions pushed the advantage to 99-91, closing out the Bucks.
“We had nine people, what can you say?” Williams said of his team’s short bench. “We battled. It was a great effort. A play here or there determined the outcome, but that’s how the road treats you sometimes.”
The Bucks trailed by as many as nine in the first quarter, but they grabbed a 33-31 lead early in the second quarter to cap a 12-2 run while the Mavericks were missing seven straight shots.
Dallas answered with a 12-2 run of its own in the second quarter to go ahead 50-41.
But Williams, who hit 10 of 16 first-half shots, scored his team’s final 14 points before halftime, including a 36-foot banked 3-pointer at the buzzer to narrow Dallas’ lead to 53-49 at the break.
“It was a tremendous effort,” Bucks coach Larry Krystkowiak said of Williams. “The rim must have looked awfully big for him in the first half. He’s been playing with confidence. He kept us in the game.”
Williams fell two points short of matching his career high for points. … Dallas F Jerry Stackhouse is expected back in the lineup Friday night at home against Memphis after missing the last seven games with a strained right hamstring. … G Devin Harris is also out for Dallas due to a bone bruise on his left ankle. He’s out of the protective boot he had been wearing, but is expected to miss at least another two weeks. Coach Avery Johnson said starting Barea at point guard while Harris recovers is a “day-to-day” situation. … Milwaukee is 6-23 on the road.