Ellis spoils Nowitzki's 20-20 game, Bucks top Mavs
DALLAS (AP) — Monta Ellis made sure the Milwaukee Bucks didn't lose another close game.
Dirk Nowitzki couldn't do the same, even with a stat line the Dallas Mavericks had not seen from their star in nearly 10 years.
Ellis scored 22 points, and the Bucks spoiled Nowitzki's first game since April 2003 with at least 20 points and 20 rebounds in a 95-90 victory over the Mavericks on Tuesday night.
Playing point guard with struggling backcourt mate Brandon Jennings on the bench, Ellis twice put the Bucks ahead in the final 2 minutes, the last time on a jumper for a 92-90 lead with 1:03 remaining. Milwaukee snapped a three-game losing streak — all by three points or fewer, just the third time that's happened in franchise history.
"We can put that behind us now and build off of that," said Ellis, who also had game highs with nine assists and six steals.
Nowitzki had 21 points and 20 rebounds for the Mavericks, who had two chances to tie after Ellis' go-ahead basket. Vince Carter missed a 3-pointer, and after Nowitzki's 20th rebound at the other end, Darren Collison's wild shot on a drive wasn't close.
The Mavericks, who have made the playoffs 12 straight years, fell five games behind Houston for the final postseason berth in the Western Conference with 26 games remaining. Dallas had a chance late in its last three losses in a season full of close defeats.
"It's not looking good for sure," said Nowitzki, who had 25 points and 22 rebounds against the Lakers in his fifth 20-20 game on April 3, 2003. "This league is crazy and I've seen a lot happen. But it's definitely getting tight. If we want to make a push, we have to find a way to win those close games."
J.J. Redick, playing his second game in Dallas in six days but in a different uniform after he was traded from Orlando to Milwaukee, had nine points at halftime, tied with Mike Dunleavy for the team lead, and finished with 14. Dunleavy had 13.
Redick stayed on the floor with Ellis in the final minutes, with Jennings watching after scoring eight points on just 3-of-11 shooting.
"I just felt like that group was playing well together," Bucks coach Jim Boylan said. "I saw the game kind of slipping from us a little bit and felt I needed to get those guys out there again."
Larry Sanders had 11 of his 13 points in the second half and led Milwaukee with 13 rebounds.
The Mavericks had four chances to break an 88-all tie with less than 3 minutes left, but Nowitzki turned it over after three straight misses and offensive rebounds. The Mavericks shot 42 percent and were 1 of 17 from 3-point range.
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