DALLAS, Jan. 2 (Ticker) -- Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks looked quite refreshed after their four-day layoff.

Nowitzki scored 39 points and led four players in double figures, as the Mavericks defeated the woeful Milwaukee Bucks, 123-104, for their third straight win.

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"We talked about coming out and setting the standard early in this homestand," Nowitzki said. "It (has) been working well."

Entering the game third in the NBA in scoring, Nowitzki scored 21 points in the first half, marking the third straight game he has reached 20 in a half.

"I have to be aggressive on the offensive end," Nowitzki said. "Usually when I'm aggressive, it helps my teammates because I demand a little more attention. I've been trying to mix it up, drive a little more this year and get to the basket or get fouled."

Nowitzki and Erick Dampier combined to score 21 points on 10-of-11 shooting in the first quarter, helping Dallas shoot 65 percent (15-of-23) and open a 33-19 lead.

"They came out and did a really good job of making shots," Bucks coach Terry Porter said. "We had some stretches where we turned it over and they were off to the races."

Dampier has been dominant for the Mavericks with nine dunks in the first quarter of the last two games.

"Damp (has) to be aggressive for us to go somewhere," Nowitzki said. "He's been playing great lately. He's pump-faking and going up there and dunking the ball. He's getting fouled. That's what we need."

The Mavericks extended the lead to 22 points before Milwaukee gradually closed to 88-80 behind Maurice Williams, who scored 11 points in the third quarter.

"They feed off of me so I've got to set the tone," Williams said. "I felt like in the first quarter I was real passive. I wanted to come out in the second half and be more aggressive."

"Even though we had a comfortable lead, it felt like with a couple of shots, they could have been right back in it," Nowitzki said. "It should have been a lot easier on us. But at this point, we're taking the win."

Josh Howard scored 11 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter to keep the Bucks at bay. Howard also led the Mavericks with 13 rebounds.

"I'm staying aggressive, hitting the glass (and) cleaning up," Howard said. "A lot of the shots were going through Fin (Michael Finley) and Dirk. I was just on the glass cleaning up, running the floor and doing the little things to help my team win."

Jerry Stackhouse came off the bench to score 18 points and Jason Terry handed out 10 assists for Dallas.

"It's starting to come together for me," Stackhouse said. "I'm looking at the new year with a lot of resolve and trying to go out and be myself. Coach allows me to be myself. The only time I err is when I'm not aggressive."

Mike James scored 20 points to lead six players in double figures for Milwaukee (9-18), which has lost two in a row and seven of 10. Dan Gadzuric tied a season-high with 14 rebounds and scored 12 points.

"We have to learn to maintain or focus for 48 minutes," James said. "Against a team like this, we can't afford to get down so many points and try to play catch-up."