MILWAUKEE – Earl Boykins returned after a one-game suspension to score a season-high 26 points and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the injury-depleted Dallas Mavericks 99-87 on Saturday night.
Missing Dirk Nowitzki for the third consecutive game because of a sprained right knee and Shawn Marion with a thigh injury, the Mavericks suffered another blow when Caron Butler injured his right knee with 2:47 left in the first quarter. The trio averages just over 50 points.
Butler, averaging 15.4 points, stayed on the floor for a couple of minutes before limping off the court to the locker room. The extent of his injury was not immediately known.
With all those injured players, Dallas turned to reserve guard Jose Barea, who scored a career-high 29 points in 35 minutes. It was the third consecutive loss for the Mavericks.
John Salmons scored 21 points for Milwaukee, and Ersan Ilyasova had 16 points and a season-high 17 rebounds.
The Bucks had a 51-31 rebounding advantage and outscored Dallas 50-24 in the paint.
Boykins, suspended a game for bumping referee Brian Forte on Monday night against Atlanta, made nine of 16 shots and had six assists. The 5-foot-5 guard is playing increased minutes due to the injury to starting point guard Brandon Jennings.
Ilyasova made a pair of free throws and Salmons hit an 18-foot jumper to give Milwaukee a 94-85 lead with 2:25 to go. Tyson Chandler made a pair of free throws for Dallas, but Boykins found Keyon Dooling open and the Bucks guard made a 3-pointer for a 97-87 lead with 1:33 left. Chandler then missed a 6-foot hook shot, and Ilyasova made a pair of free throws for a 99-87 lead with 55 seconds left.
The Bucks used a 7-0 run midway through the fourth quarter to open a lead they never relinquished. Andrew Bogut, held to eight points, made a hook in the lane. Boykins made a 3-pointer and Bogut hit a baseline 15 footer for an 85-77 lead with 7:38 to go.
The Bucks took the lead for good, 67-65, on Salmons' 3-pointer with 2:55 left in the third quarter.
Milwaukee's Luc Mbah a Moute sustained a mild concussion and played only 12 minutes.
NOTES: Barea's previous career high had been 26 points at Houston Feb. 20, 2009. ... Bucks coach Scott Skiles said Jennings was rehabbing by riding a stationary bicycle before the game, but there still was no timetable for his return. Jennings had surgery for a stress fracture in his left foot Dec. 20 and was expected to miss at least four weeks. ... Skiles sent Jon Brockman into the game midway through the fourth quarter to twice foul Brendan Haywood, who was making only 28 percent (15 of 53) of his free throws. Haywood was 1 of 4.