MILWAUKEE -- Dallas coach Avery Johnson admits even he's stunned sometimes by the Mavericks' cornerstone player.
"Dirk Nowitzki is incredible. Man, sometimes, I get caught watching him, he's so good," Johnson said.
Nowitzki had another brilliant performance with 38 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists and the Mavs overcame a 16-point second-half deficit to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 99-93 Tuesday night for their eighth straight win.
The Mavericks, with the NBA's best record at 43-9, outscored the Bucks 28-11 in the fourth quarter as Milwaukee self-destructed with six turnovers and failed to hit a field goal in the final 7:05.
"We really scrambled trying to contest shots," Nowitzki said. "We feel like we're a good defensive team, but we have to step it up earlier. Especially on the road, you don't want a team to get up 16."
Dallas took its first lead of the game, 93-92, with 1:04 to play on Nowitzki's layup after the Mavericks got a third chance after a pair of offensive rebounds.
Milwaukee's Ruben Patterson, who finished with 20 points, tied it at 93 by hitting the second of two free throws, but Nowitzki drove and found Jason Terry for a 16-foot jumper that put Dallas ahead 95-93 with 34.9 seconds left.
"Jason obviously hit a big shot after a little screen-and-roll play there with 30 seconds to go, but that's what Jason does," Nowitzki said.
With a chance to tie, the Bucks missed yet another shot when Charlie Bell, who finished with 11 points, misfired on an 18-footer. The Mavericks got the rebound, and Jerry Stackhouse hit two free throws. Nowitzki added two free throws of his own for the final margin.
"It's frustrating," Bell said. "It's coming down to who wants it more at the end. Dallas really showed they wanted it more."
Dallas, which has now won 29 out of its last 31 games, also got 15 points from Josh Howard and 13 points from Stackhouse. Terry also had 10 assists.
Andrew Bogut had 16 points and 17 rebounds for Milwaukee, which has lost seven of its last eight and is 3-18 since Jan. 1. Charlie Villanueva and Mo Williams had 15 points apiece and Earl Boykins added 13 for the Bucks, who play at Boston, losers of 18 straight, on Wednesday night.
Dallas trailed 82-71 after three quarters but Devean George had all the Mavericks' points in a 9-2 run to start the fourth. His fastbreak layup made it 84-80 with 9 minutes left.
George went sprawling for a loose ball 90 seconds later and immediately started grasping his right knee. The team said he'd have an MRI exam on Wednesday if the knee was still bothering him.
Nowitzki, drafted by the Bucks but traded on draft night along with Pat Garrity for Robert Traylor in 1998, picked up the scoring slack from there, hitting a pair of jumpers and Terry added a 15-footer to cut it to 91-88.
After Nowitzki got a technical foul, he drove and found Stackhouse open in the corner for a 3 setting up the final sequence as Milwaukee missed its final 10 shots.
Dallas, which didn't play particularly well in a 106-89 victory at Philadelphia on Sunday after building a 30-point lead, got down big to the Bucks.
Bogut was the main reason the Bucks built an early lead. He already had a double-double with 5 minutes left in the first half, and the Mavs still trailed 68-52 midway through the third quarter.
Nowitzki made sure the lead didn't last.
"A lot of people don't give him a lot of respect," Howard said. "He should have been MVP the last two years for what he's done for this team. I think he's proven his point."
Villanueva sprained his right ankle and returned briefly before leaving for good. The team said he's day to day. ... Johnson said he believes that next season as many as four Dallas players -- Nowitzki, Howard, Terry and Erick Dampier -- could make the All-Star game when it's scheduled to be played in Johnson's hometown of New Orleans. ... Milwaukee's Michael Redd (sprained left knee) missed his 19th game and is not traveling with the team to Boston. ... The crowd was announced at 16,514, but there were thousands of empty seats as heavy snow fell beginning a few hours before tip-off.