Earl Boykins' season-best 26 points lift Bucks past banged-up Mavs

MILWAUKEE -- Injuries are starting to catch up to the Dallas Mavericks.

Caron Butler went down with a knee injury in the first quarter, and Milwaukee's Earl Boykins returned after a one-game suspension to score a season-high 26 points in the Bucks' 99-87 victory Saturday night. The short-handed Mavericks have lost three straight.

The extent of Caron's injury wasn't known after the game, but the Mavericks were preparing to play an extended time without the 6-foot-7 forward who entered the night averaging 15.4 points.

"We're afraid that it's potentially serious," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "We'll find out [Sunday] where things are at, probably later in the day."

Butler was to stay in Milwaukee overnight and return to Dallas on Sunday to be further examined.

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 Butler was hurt. He stayed on the floor for a couple of minutes before limping off the court to the locker room with 2:47 left in the first quarter.

The trio averages just over 50 points a game.

"Look, with Dirk out and Shawn out, it's a game we had to win and we won," Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles said. "That's great."

With all those injured players, Dallas turned to reserve guard Jose Barea, who scored a career-high 29 points in 35 minutes. Dallas has lost all three games with Nowitzki out of the lineup.

"We're short on bodies now, having some injury problems," Nowitzki said. "But we've got to fight through it. Hopefully I can get back soon and Marion can get back soon, and we'll see how bad Caron is and we'll just go from there."

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.

Dallas played a lot of zone defense in an effort to stop Andrew Bogut and the Milwaukee center was held to eight points. Boykins, suspended a game for bumping referee Brian Forte on Monday night against Atlanta, made nine of 16 shots and had six assists to neutralize the zone's effectiveness.

Boykins said there were seams in the Mavericks' zone.

"There's not too many teams in this league that can play a very good zone," said the 5-foot-5 guard, playing increased minutes because of an injury to starting point guard Brandon Jennings.

"A lot of teams play the zone, but you know sometime they get overextended just because guys aren't used to playing the zone," he said. "Their guards were a little too wide. Once we were able to get their guys wide we passed to the middle and that was huge."

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. Bogut 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 Richard Mbah a Moute sustained a mild concussion and played only 12 minutes.

Game notes
Barea's previous career high was 26 points at Houston on Feb. 20, 2009. ... 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.