Earlier this season while they were struggling, the Dallas Mavericks kept saying that as soon as they got to know one another and as soon as all of their key players got healthy, they would become a major player and become a threat to make the playoffs.
Consider that promise a reality.
Getting a solid performance form a host of players, the Mavs tripped the Milwaukee Bucks 115-108 before 14,154 on Tuesday night at the Bradley Center.
With the victory, the Mavs (30-33) are now 3-0 on their four-game road trip while winning three straight road games for the first time this season. It also was the Mavs’ fourth straight victory — only the second time all season they’ve won this many games consecutively.
In other words, with just 19 games remaining in the regular season, the Mavs have gotten hot at the most meaningful time.
“I give our guys a lot of credit,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We knew this was going to be one of those persistent games where you got to keep chipping away and you’ve got to keep hanging in. And they did and they deserved to win.
“We’ve gotten closer together as a team. We know time is short and urgency is high, and we’re going to let it all hang out. We’re going to throw the kitchen sink at everybody, and we’re going to hit every arena with guns blazing.”
The Mavs definitely had their guns blazing Tuesday as they shot 50 percent from the field, converted 11 of 29 3-pointers and committed just nine turnovers. They also built an 18-point lead in the third quarter then held off the Bucks behind a trio of incredible 3-pointers form Vince “Half-Man, Half-Amazing” Carter.
“He got that nickname for a reason,” said Mike James, who contributed 13 points, six rebounds and seven assists. “Every time that Milwaukee went on a run, he was able to get the crowd out of the game — he was able to take the air out of them.
Carter, who tallied 23 points, nailed a 3-pointer that staked the Mavs to a 109-100 lead with 2:28 left. Then he added a driving left-handed shot that kept the Mavs’ lead at 111-102 with 1:40 left.
“I felt in a groove tonight,” Carter said. “The basket just seemed huge, and I was playing with a lot of confidence out there. I felt comfortable with my shot all night, and I was prepared for a battle.”
So were the Mavs as a whole as Dirk Nowitzki finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds, and rookie Jae Crower — who played college ball at Marquette in Milwaukee — collected 14 points and eight rebounds. O.J. Mayo added 14 points, and Brandan Wright added nine points, eight rebounds and three blocks.
Even seldom-used Rodrigue Beaubois came off the bench and contributed seven points and three assists in the latter half of the second quarter, which ended with the Mavs ahead 63-55.
Now it’s on to San Antonio on Thursday for the final game of the road trip for the Mavs, who avenged a 95-90 home loss to Milwaukee on Feb. 26. But they weren’t talking about bringing out any brooms before playing the Spurs.
“It’s just another game we’ve got to win,” Wright said. “We just got to keep fighting and take it one game at a time.”