The Milwaukee Bucks could have gained ground on the three teams directly ahead of them in the Eastern Conference playoff standings.

But 36-year-old Vince Carter wouldn't let them.

Carter drilled 3 long three-pointers and scored 11 of his team's final 17 points to help the Dallas Mavericks beat Milwaukee, 115-108, Tuesday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

"He was making some tough ones," Bucks forward Mike Dunleavy said. "We contested most of them, but he has the ability to do that."

Milwaukee (32-30) lost for just the second time in its last eight games and could have moved within 1½ games of idle Chicago. The Bulls hold the No. 5 spot in the playoff chase, and the two other teams ahead of the Bucks, Atlanta and Boston, also lost on Tuesday.

"Every time you lose a game now, being in the position we're in, it has significance," Milwaukee coach Jim Boylan said. "Because we're trying to climb up, because we're trying to secure our spot - there's a lot of reasons - so when you drop a game at home . . . it definitely stings a little bit."

Monta Ellis led Milwaukee with 32 points on 12-of-24 shooting to go with nine assists.

Dunleavy, who started for the injured Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (turf toe), finished with 18 points and J.J. Redick added 17.

Ekpe Udoh scored a season-high 14 points, but Brandon Jennings was held to a season-low four.

Jennings played the first four minutes of the final quarter and did not return. He was 2 of 7 from the floor to go with five assists and five rebounds.

"I didn't think the rhythm of the game was going real well, and I needed to pick it up a little bit, change some things," Boylan said. "I felt like we could make a little bit of a run, so it was a coach's decision to bring J.J. back in the game."