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Mavs' Ellis triumphant in return to Milwaukee

The SportsXchange

MILWAUKEE -- There was a certain sense of relief in the Dallas Mavericks' locker room following their 91-83 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks Saturday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

For the first time in this young NBA season, the Mavericks held an opponent to under 100 points and the victory marked their first away from the American Airlines Center.

"That feels good," guard Monta Ellis said. "I know we're going to play good at home but for us to get to our goal, to where we want to be in the West, we have to get some wins on the road and grind like we did tonight. Hopefully we can start winning more."

Ellis led the way, scoring 18 points with 5 assists against the Bucks, his team for the last 1 1/2 seasons. He went 6-of-14 from the field and scored 12 of his points in the first half as the Mavericks built a 15-point lead.

Ellis declined a player option and rejected a contract to remain in Milwaukee this season, signing instead a three-year, $26 million offer from Dallas, where he scored 100 points in the Mavericks' first five games.

"Monta is an attacker," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "He's going to get in the lane and he's going to cause problems. We need to get him the ball in the right situations and let him play his game. He made a couple of really smart plays down the stretch, one to get to the free throw line, hit one big shot, made one really good pass to Dirk (Nowitzki) for a big shot. He and Dirk are our two best players, so we expect a lot out of these guys each night."

In his return to Milwaukee, Ellis was booed loudly every time he touched the ball.

"I kind of figured (it would happen)," Ellis said. "It is what it is. It comes with it. When I played here, I played the same way. I played hard every night. It's just how fans are.

"It felt good to be back. To come out with a win, it's even better."

Forward Nowitzki added 16 points and forward Shawn Marion finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds while swingman Vince Carter chipped in 13 in 21 minutes off the bench.

The Mavericks held a comfortable lead through the first half but Milwaukee made it a one-possession game late in the third before struggling to hold onto the ball in the final quarter.

Dallas built a nine-point lead in the final quarter before Milwaukee again mounted a comeback, drawing within a bucket on guard O.J. Mayo's 3-pointer with 3:33 left that made it 81-79 but eight turnovers in the fourth prevented Milwaukee from winning consecutive games for the first time this season.

"We had a good comeback but I'm done playing that game, I'm tired of playing comeback basketball," Bucks coach Larry Drew said. "We get down because offensively we don't move the ball, we keep it on one side of the floor and keep playing one-on-one. For us, that's a recipe for disaster."

Mayo, who played last season for the Mavericks, finished with 28 points and was 4 of 7 on 3-point attempts while guard Caron Butler had 19 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Bucks, who shot 38 percent from the field but made 11 of 23 3-pointers.

Milwaukee finished with 20 turnovers, which Dallas converted into 16 points.

"We'll watch a little film and see what it is," Mayo said. "We have to keep our energy. We're at home, we get paid millions of dollars to play basketball so we have to keep the energy. We had a chance to win this game tonight but we just didn't get it done."

While the Bucks shot just 33 percent from the field, the Mavericks made 13 of 22 and 4 of 5 3-pointers to take a 34-19 lead after one quarter.

Dallas' shooters cooled off in the second, hitting just 7 of 18 but the Mavericks maintained the 15-point lead at the break.

Dallas led by as many as 18 in the third but committed five turnovers during the quarter which allowed Milwaukee to come storming back and get within three on Knight's transition layup that made it 66-63 with 1:38 left in the period.

NOTES: Dallas won consecutive games in Milwaukee for the first time since the 1986-87 and 1987-88 seasons. The Mavericks are 8-24 all-time in Milwaukee. ... Bucks point guard Brandon Knight returned to action for the first time since suffering a hamstring injury in the season opener. He finished with six points in 15 minutes of action. ... Milwaukee forward John Henson and Dallas forward Jae Crowder came into the game ranked first and third, respectively, in field-goal percentage this season. ... Crowder played collegiately in Milwaukee for Marquette, with whom he earned Big East Player of the Year honors in 2012.
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