Final, Mavericks 99-90: The Celtics got one more horse back into the stable but again had no staying power in this one. That is seven losses in 11 games for Boston and the return of Kevin Garnett, in whatever form he is in, cannot come any sooner as this club lacks a serious something.
In this one, it lacked an ability to stop Dirk Nowitzki after the break. He went for 22 in the second half and finished with 37. Jason Kidd had an almost quiet 13 points and 17 assists for Dallas, which is now 14-7 on the road.
Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 24 points and Ray Allen went for 21 in the losing effort.
One positive for the C's — they can now get the heck out of town and hit the road, which has been a much more fruitful place all season. Boston visits lowly Detroit on Wednesday, a game we will be following right here. The tip is set for 7:30 p.m.
Fourth quarter, 1:50, Mavericks 98-86: There are empty seats all over this place, a scene that is becoming a bit more familiar at the end of games. The Celts are about to fall to 11-7 at home and will have dropped three in a row at TD Garden.
Fourth quarter, 2:45, Mavericks 95-84: The Celtics had scored seven straight points after Dallas built its largest lead of the game (18 points), but a second chance for Dirk Nowitzki ends that run.
Nowitzki has 36 points, 21 in the second half.
Fourth quarter, 4:55, Mavericks 93-80: Ray Allen hits a jumper to give the Celtics a little life, but just a little.
We have not seen Paul Pierce return after he left with eight minutes to go and you wonder if Doc Rivers is waiting to see if his team can legitimately make this a game by about the 3-minute mark before putting Pierce back in.
Pierce has played 33 hard minutes with the balky knee.
Fourth quarter, 5:37, Mavericks 93-78: Another missed free throw, this time by Rasheed Wallace, who is having a bad night in his return.
Fourth quarter, 6:56, Mavericks 93-75: Dallas is now on a 14-0 run.
Fourth quarter, 8:01, 89-75: There is one team on the floor right now, and it isn't the Celtics.
Dallas is flat-out dominating. There are simply no options outside of Paul Pierce for the Celtics, and the Mavericks cannot miss.
Dallas is now 21-of-26 in the second half after Jason Terry buries a 3-pointer, his first basket of the game after six misses.
It helps when you are wide open, as Terry and several other Mavs shooters have been.
Fourth quarter, 8:54, Mavericks 83-75: A Tony Allen pass to nowhere pretty much sums up the Celtics' fruitless second half.
It appears as if Rasheed Wallace will enter to try to put a dent into the Dirk Nowitzki express.
Wallace had some success early on doing so, but he has been hampered by foul trouble in the second half.
Fourth quarter, 9:27, Mavericks 81-75: Glen Davis is now marking Dirk Nowitzki, or at least attempting to, and having little success.
Nowitzki now has 19 second-half points.
Fourth quarter, 11:00, Mavericks 77-70: Tony Allen's first basket of the game comes at a good time as it starts the fourth quarter on a good note for Boston.
Alas, Dirk Nowitzki hits a pair of free throws on the other end and now has 30 points.
End of third quarter, Mavericks 75-68: Here we go again.
Following another quality first half, the Celtics have another third-quarter collapse and are up against it in the fourth.
Nobody had any success against Dirk Nowitzki in the third. Rasheed Wallace may not be up to the task in his first game back, but after he left with his fourth foul, Brian Scalabrine did not far any better.
Both did a pretty good job on the Dallas superstar in the first half but he had 13 in the third, which saw Shawn Marion score twice in the last minute.
The Celtics actually held a 12-point lead in that quarter. Hard to imagine, isn't it?
Third quarter, 1:02, Mavericks 71-68: Just as I type that last entry, Dirk Nowitzki scores again and the Mavs have their first lead since late in the first quarter.
Nowitzki is on fire in the third, making 6-of-7 shots.
Third quarter, 1:58, Celtics 68-67: Dirk Nowitzki scores to tie the game for the first time since the first quarter but Paul Pierce replies with a 3-pointer.
Third quarter, 2:56, Celtics 65-62: During this run by the Mavericks, there have been plenty of grumblings in the crowd, which is fully aware that the Celtics have had their fair share of issues after the break of late, particularly at home.
The Bulls outscored Boston in the second half by five points on Thursday, and the Hawks bested the C's by 15 following the break a few nights earlier. Both resulted in losses, of course.
Third quarter, 3:56, Celtics 65-62: When asked before the game what some of the issues were for the Celtics at home this season, Ray Allen said that giving up offensive rebounds has been a consistent problem.
Indeed, over Boston's last three home games, it has given up 41 second-chance points, while recording just 17 of its own.
Dallas just recorded its first two second-chance points of the game moments ago.
Third quarter, 5:57, Celtics 63-58: The Mavs are on a 17-10 run since Paul Pierce's heave on the Celtics' first possession of the half.
Erick Dampier, who was scoreless in the first half, has nine points already in the third and just drew a foul on Kendrick Perkins before the timeout.
Third quarter, 7:02, Celtics 63-56: Not a lot of stops on either side, but a couple of chippy plays to take note of.
Jason Kidd just gave Paul Pierce an extra little shove after fouling Pierce near the elbow.
Pierce makes both free throws, a departure for the Celtics of late (see numbers below).
Third quarter, 7:32, Celtics 61-54 : Doc Rivers said before the game that having Rasheed Wallace back was great for the team but gives Wallace a tough test in trying to hang with Dirk Nowitzki.
Thus far Wallace has four points on 2-of-8 shooting, compared to Nowitzki's 17 points.
Third quarter, 11:16, Celtics 53-44: Paul Pierce starts the third quarter in fine fashion, hitting a desperation heave to beat the shot clock.
Halftime, Celtics 50-41: Tom Heinsohn was just presented with the inaugural Chuck Daly Achievement Award in a nice halftime tribute.
Heinsohn was appropriately given a standing ovation.
Halftime, Celtics 50-41: Dirk Nowitzki scores on an over-the-shoulder shot with seconds left to get the Mavericks' deficit into single digits, but a quality first half for the Celtics.
Ray Allen leads the way with 15 points — this after his worst game of the season the last time out.
Paul Pierce had all 11 of his points in the first half. Kendrick Perkins has eight points and eight rebounds.
Boston hit 10 of its last 12 shots in the half and is at 55 percent for the game. It also holds a 20-16 edge on the boards. The free throw shooting bugaboo continues, however, as Perkins bricks a pair in the last minute to drop the C's to 4-of-11 from the line in the half.
Second quarter, 58.7 seconds, Celtics 48-38: A couple of great hoops for the Celtics gets this crowd really into it for the first time.
First Ray Allen finds Kendrick Perkins inside for a basket, and then Allen is the recipient of a hard push by Rajon Rondo.
Second quarter, 3:19, Celtics 44-36: Dirk Nowitzki is getting his points (he has 13 thus far) but is working hard to do so. Five of the points have come on the line and he has not been getting free for anything on the perimeter.
Second quarter, 4:22, Celtics 39-34: After Rajon Rondo hits 1-of-2 from the line, the Celtics have now made a disturbing 38-of-67 free throws over their last two-plus games, a 56.7 percent clip.
On the flip side, Dallas entered as the lone NBA team shooting at least 80 percent from the line on the season.
Second quarter, 5:38, Celtics 38-30: Rick Carlisle picks up a technical foul. It appeared as if he was arguing a non-call on Celtics forward Glen Davis, who seemed to bump Dirk Nowitzki but was not given a foul.
Second quarter, 7:31, Celtics 31-26: Eddie House hits a pair of long jumpers in a span of seconds to give the C's a bit of a jolt.
House had his streak without a turnover snapped at over 200 minutes in Thursday's loss to Chicago. But it's worth noting how clean House's game has been, particularly for someone who plays point for a few minutes every game.
Second quarter, 8:56, Celtics 27-24: The C's have missed four straight shots and have only a Rasheed Wallace layup to speak of here in the second quarter.
Fortunately for them, the Mavericks haven't done much better, making just one of their three measly shots in the quarter.
Second quarter, 10:28, Celtics 27-24: Rasheed Wallace nearly comes out of his shoes demanding a foul call but avoids the costly technical for now. That's two times he has had an issue early on.
Brian Scalabrine not only replaces him in the lineup but nearly has to pull Wallace away from the officials.
Second quarter, 11:17, Celtics 25-21: Doc Rivers was asked before the game about minutes for both Paul Pierce and Rasheed Wallace.
Up until Pierce was just taken out, those were the only two Celtics to play the entire game.
End of first quarter, Celtics 25-20: The Paul Pierce show continues. After a block on one end, he scores and gets fouled amid three Mavericks defenders.
Pierce hits the free throw this time and has 11 points.
The C's controlled things for much of the quarter, getting hurt at one point by consecutive 3-pointers by Jason Kidd. They have controlled the interior and are outshooting the Mavs 48 percent to 42 percent.
First quarter, 53.2 seconds, Celtics 21-20: Rajon Rondo to Paul Pierce for a dunk on the break and the Celtics captain has eight points already. He did, however, miss two free throws a moment later.
Jose Juan Barea has entered for Dallas, drawing some cheers from the Northeastern fans in the house.
First quarter, 1:46, Mavericks 20-17: Jason Kidd already has his average with eight points (actually 8.8) after he banks in a shot, part of a 13-4 Dallas run.
First quarter, 3:10, Celtics 17-14: It may sound a bit strange, but Paul Pierce is actually moving a bit better than he was last week, it seems.
He just buried a pull-up jumper before the Mavericks timeout. No apparent issues with the knee.
First quarter, 3:32, Celtics 15-14: Rasheed Wallace has done a pretty good job on Dirk Nowitzki early on but just lost him on a pick-and-roll, leading to a foul and two foul shots for the Mavs big man.
First quarter, 5:20, Celtics 13-10: Jason Kidd is about as wide-open as you can be on back-to-back 3-pointers, which have kept the Mavericks close.
But some good signs early on for the Celtics, among them some nice movement from Paul Pierce and Rasheed Wallace, and a quality start for Ray Allen.
Allen struggled mightily his last time out, scoring just eight points and finishing with zero assists for the first time all season. He also failed to make a 3-pointer for just the fourth time in 2009-10.
Allen has five points and a board early on.
First quarter, 7:18, Celtics 11-4: Rasheed Wallace argues lustily after picking up an offensive foul and then gets a delay-of-game call slapped on the Celtics for continuing the argument.
I guess that's better than a technical, and frankly the call was a bit weak.
First quarter, 8:41, Celtics 9-2: Paul Pierce is showing no ill effects of the right knee bang-up suffered Sunday.
He has four quick points and on one basket did his best to draw as much contact as possible to try to pick up a foul.
It's all part of a 7-0 burst by the C's. Dallas looks a bit listless early on, this a day after many of its players said they were embarrassed with a 22-point loss at Toronto.
First quarter, 10:48, Celtics 2-0: We are underway here and Rasheed Wallace misses an early dunk on a feed from Paul Pierce. Perhaps a little lift missing from Wallace on that attempt.
8:08 p.m.: Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Shelden Williams and J.R. Giddens are each wearing gray sneakers tonight in honor of MLK Day. They look sharp.
Bill Walker just said a few words to the crowd to commemorate the holiday, noting King's sacrifice.
7:39 p.m.: Rasheed Wallace is, in fact, starting, despite the sheet we saw earlier saying he may come off the bench.
He is joined in the lineup by Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kendrick Perkins. This lineup is 3-1 as a starting bunch.
The Mavericks start Jason Kidd and Josh Howard at guard, Shawn Marion and Dirk Nowitzki at forward and Erick Dampier underneath.
One of the first players off Rick Carlisle's bench will be Northeastern University great Jose Juan Barea, who has molded himself into a consistent contributor for Dallas.
"He went from being a depth player last year to a primary rotation player," Carlisle said. "He's given us a lot and brings a dimension to the game none of our other guys do."
Barea is averaging 9.1 points and 3.5 assists in over 23 minutes a game this season.
On a side note, Celtics legend Kevin McHale is in the house for TNT, roaming the halls alongside Carlisle and Danny Ainge in what feels like a reunion from the glorious Celtics years in the 1980s. No word yet on whether Larry Bird or Robert Parish are walking through "that door".
7:30 p.m.: Greetings from the Garden on this MLK Day.
We are just over a half-hour from tip and have some updates from the Celtics locker room, where word was passed down that Paul Pierce will start despite banging his already injured right knee in practice Sunday, and Rasheed Wallace is back after a three-game layoff.
Doc Rivers did not elaborate on the minutes Pierce will play, but said it's a matter of time before his knee feels 100 percent again.
"It was just a ding," Rivers said of the collision between Pierce and Shelden Williams in practice. "We've got to get it stronger and that's going to take some time. It looked bad, obviously, but it's gonna take some time."
Rivers said he has no set plan to play Wallace a certain amount of minutes and will just monitor the big man's foot and his fatigue. Matching up with Dirk Nowitzki presents a daunting return for Wallace, who will be moving plenty in an effort to stick with the Mavs superstar.
"He's a mobile 5," said Rivers of Nowitzki, who is given play sets Rivers runs for Ray Allen. "I don't think there's ever been a player like Dirk. He's an original."
Early word is that Brian Scalabrine will start with Wallace coming off the bench. That may change and I'll update as soon as it does.
11:02 a.m.: While one key cog returns for the Celtics when they take on the Dallas Mavericks at TD Garden, the biggest one may be missing.
Paul Pierce is questionable after banging his right knee — the same one he had drained last month, causing him to miss four games — in a collision in practice on Sunday. It would be a damaging blow to a team that has dropped six of 10 and showed its frailty in a 13-point loss at home to the Chicago Bulls on Thursday.
If Pierce cannot go, expect Tony Allen to get the start.
Softening the blow will be the return of Rasheed Wallace, who missed the last three games with a sore left foot.
Whatever lineup Doc Rivers has at his disposal will contend with a Mavericks team which sits atop the Southwest Division at 26-14 and owns 13 road wins, most in the Western Conference.
Dallas, however, was blown out Sunday in Toronto in the start of a five-game road trip. The Mavs forced just five turnovers in a 110-88 loss.
The C's have won the last four meetings with Dallas. We'll see if they can continue that streak, with or without Pierce, starting a little after 8 p.m. I'll be courtside following along.