Wed. Final: Mavericks 116, Bucks 96
DALLAS (AP) -- Josh Howard scored 27 points, Jason Kidd added 19 and the Dallas Mavericks avenged their worst loss of the season last month in Milwaukee by beating the Bucks 116-96 Wednesday night.
The Mavericks, who bounced back after losing to a short-handed San Antonio team on Tuesday, closed the first half with an 18-2 run to lead by 24 at the break.
The Bucks beat the Mavericks 133-99 on Jan. 21 and led 15-7 early on Wednesday. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle called a timeout and his team responded by scoring the next 16 points.
Brandon Bass came off the bench to score 18 points and grab 11 rebounds for the Mavericks. Dirk Nowitzki and Antoine Wright each added 14 as Dallas put six scorers in double figures.
Milwaukee's Charlie Villanueva, who scored 19 in the first quarter, finished with 25 points. Charlie Bell added 19 points and Richard Jefferson had 16.
After shooting 34 percent in their loss to the Spurs, the Mavericks hit 53 percent (39-for-73) from the floor and outrebounded the Bucks 51-25.
It was a far cry from the game last month in Wisconsin, where the Bucks scored 111 points over the final three quarters.
Milwaukee was within 47-39 after Bell hit a 3-pointer midway through the second quarter.
Kidd hit a pair of 3s to stretch the Mavericks' lead to 57-41, and Wright closed the first half with a pair of free throws that gave the Mavericks a 65-41 cushion.
Dallas hit its final seven shots of the opening half.
The Bucks crept to 94-83 with 8:35 remaining on Bell's 3-pointer, but that was as close as they got. Kidd drove for a pair of layups to key a 14-0 spurt that put Dallas up by 25.
Both teams came into the game jockeying for one of the final playoff spots in their respective conferences.
Milwaukee is eighth in the East and has a one-game edge over Chicago and New Jersey.
Dallas is eighth in the West, 1 1/2 games ahead of Phoenix. This was first in a stretch of four straight games against teams under .500 for the Mavericks.
Howard scored 12 points in the first quarter as the Mavericks took a 33-23 lead.
Villanueva, who scored Milwaukee's first 11 points, was 8-for-11 from the floor in the first quarter and accounted for all his team's field goals. The other Bucks combined to go 0-for-13.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)