After a strong first half in which they looked refreshed after a three-day layoff, the Celtics imploded in the third quarter, allowing the Mavericks to rebound from a nine-point halftime deficit en route to a 99-90 win at the TD Garden on Monday evening.
Boston shot 55 percent in the first half, but seemed to unravel in the third quarter, suddenly going cold from the floor while Dallas capitalized on a 15-2 run to close out the period and take a seven-point lead, their largest of the night. The Mavericks' offense never slowed down while the Celtics struggled to catch back up.
Despite shooting just 42 percent in the first half, the Mavericks finished the game shooting 52.7 percent from the floor.
The Mavericks, playing their third game in four days and coming off a
110-88 drubbing at the hands of the Raptors, got 37 points from Dirk
Nowitzki and 13 points and 17 assists from Jason Kidd.
One bright spot for Boston was the fact that captain Paul Pierce, who was a game-time decision after a nasty collision during Sunday's practice, contributed 24 points, while Ray Allen chipped in 21.
Mavericks 99, Celtics 90
TD Garden, Boston, Mass.
Jan. 18, 2010
Headliner: Dirk Nowitzki almost single-handedly spurred the Mavericks back into
the game in the third quarter, scoring on a critical series of
possessions to give Dallas its first lead since the middle of the first
quarter. The big man finished with 37 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Floor general Jason Kidd had 13 points and 17 assists.
Paul Pierce and Ray Allen combined for 45 points and just three turnovers. Pierce had 24 points and Allen had 21, 11 of which came in the first half and allowed the Celtics to head into the locker room with a nine-point halftime lead.
Unsung Hero: Kendrick Perkins logged 35 minutes and shot 7-of-10 from the floor, finishing with 14 points and 12 rebounds for a double-double. The Celtics outrebounded the Mavericks 20-15 in the first half, and Perk was instrumental in helping Boston establish a defensive presence on the boards. Unfortunately, the C's couldn't carry it over past halftime.
Point guard Rajon Rondo finished with seven points, 12 assists and two steals.
Scrub: In a close game, it's hard to overlook missed free throws that could have been the difference between winning and losing. The Celtics had 16 chances from the charity stripe and sunk just half of them.
Rasheed Wallace was extremely cold as he returned to the starting lineup after missing two straight games with a foot ailment. He shot 5-of-13 from the floor — heating up only in the final five minutes, when the game was already out of reach — and went 0-for-4 from beyond the arc.
Turning Point: With three minutes left in the third and Boston's nine-point halftime lead whittled down to just three, the C's were whistled for a three-second violation. Dirk Nowitzki sunk one free throw to make it 65-63 before sinking a jumper to tie it on the ensuing possession. Paul Pierce hit a three in transition to put Boston back on top 68-65, but with 1:50 left, Nowitzki gave Dallas its first lead since the first quarter on a 17-foot jumper and extended the lead to 71-68 with another with just over a minute remaining.
Nowitzki shot 6-of-7 from the floor in the third quarter and engineered a comeback that backed Boston into a corner.
Up Next: Rasheed Wallace will visit his old stomping grounds on Wednesday, when the Celtics travel to Detroit to take on the Pistons. Detroit's season has been a disappointing one, as it is currently tied for last place in the Central at 14-26, 16 games behind the first-place Cavaliers. The lineup is ravaged by injuries right now, as Ben Gordon (groin), Tayshaun Prince (knee) and Will Bynum (ankle) were all held out of Monday's loss to the Knicks.
The Pistons are still recovering from a nasty streak in which they lost 14 of 17 games. The Celtics are banged up, too, but hopefully not as bad as Detroit.