A Rajon Rondo lob inside for a KG layup sailed wide, the Mavs took over, and Dirk Nowitzki made two free throws to drive the last nail into the Celtics' coffin. After leading with 15 seconds to play, the Celtics end up dropping a heartbreaker at the TD Garden.
Dirk finishes with a game-high 29 points, including 10-of-10 free-throw shooting. Five other Mavs finish in double figures, including Jason Terry with 17.
The Celtics get 24 from Ray Allen, who's now five 3-pointers away from Reggie Miller. But this time, his trey wasn't the story. Kidd's was.
The C's will have to forget this one in a hurry. The Orlando Magic are headed to town on Super Sunday, less than 48 hours from now.
Fourth quarter, 2.5 seconds, Mavs 99-97: Jason Kidd has never been known as a prolific 3-point shooter, but he's actually third all-time behind Reggie Miller and Ray Allen. And he just came through with a really, really big one.
The Mavs have reclaimed the lead on a Kidd trifecta.
Now the onus is on the Celtics. One shot to tie or possibly win the ballgame.
Can they do it?
Fourth quarter, 15.3 seconds, Celtics 97-96: Uh oh. Here we go.
Dirk Nowitzki comes up with a big rebound off a KG miss, and the Mavs are now alive and well. In fact, they're one bucket away from stealing a win at the TD Garden.
It'll all come down to the last shot.
Will it be Dirk? The Mavs' leader is 9-for-14 tonight for 27 points. Can he drain one more big shot?
Fourth quarter, 1:24, Celtics 97-94: Jason Terry gets an open look at a corner 3 to tie the ballgame. Airball.
On the following possession, DeShawn Stevenson tries one. Airball again.
If the Mavs can't even find the rim in these final minutes, then consider this game over.
Fourth quarter, 3:19, Celtics 95-89: Ray Allen connects on yet another 3. He's now five away from Reggie Miller, and the C's are a few stops away from a big win.
Ray has 24 now, a game high. The C's are undefeated this season when he scores 20-plus.
Fourth quarter, 4:37, Celtics 92-89: Talk all you want about clutch shooting, but clutch rebounding is almost important. And Kendrick Perkins has been an absolute beast on the glass.
He just got an offensive rebound off a Rondo miss, followed by a quick putback. He's now got 11 points and 10 rebounds, his first double-double since April 4, 2010.
Perk and the Celtics are a few stops away from heading down the home stretch toward a win.
Fourth quarter, 5:59, Celtics 90-89: Kevin Garnett has been squaring off with Dirk Nowitzki for going on 13 years now, and he always gets up for it. He just came up with a big bucket inside to keep the Celtics ahead. KG wants this one.
Defense has been hard to come by for both teams tonight, but if the C's collectively can beat Dirk in a shootout, they've got a chance to finish this thing.
Fourth quarter, 8:45, 83-83: Dirk Nowitzki isn't going away without a fight. He's now got 24 points, adding to his game high, and surely no doubt plenty more to come.
Last time these two teams met, back in November, Nowitzki picked the Celtics apart with a fourth-quarter scoring spree.
Can the C's stop him this time?
Fourth quarter, 10:35, Celtics 81-79: Shawn Marion just got a wide-open transition bucket off another Boston turnover (their 13th). But Paul Pierce has a quick answer — a dagger of a wing 3 to put the Celtics back on top.
This fourth quarter's going to be neck and neck from wire to wire. Mark it down.
End of third quarter, 77-77: Shawn Marion's desperate 3-point attempt rims out at the buzzer, so we remain all tied up as we head to the fourth quarter.
The Mavs have gotten 22 points from Dirk Nowitzki, along with 12 from Tyson Chandler and 11 reach from J.J. Barea and Jason Terry.
The C's get 21 from Ray Allen and 14 from Kevin Garnett.
Who will shine in crunch time?
Third quarter, 2:05, 75-75: The Mavs come charging back right away, as a Jason Terry steal from Paul Pierce leads to a fast break. Dirk Nowitzki gets a layup in transition. He's now got 20 points, a team high, and we're all tied up again.
The C's need Kevin Garnett in the game to slow Dirk down. Glen Davis is too short to do it alone, frankly.
Third quarter, 4:29, Celtics 73-69: The Celtics have seized control for the first time in a while. Buckets from Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Glen Davis have swung this ballgame back toward the C's, who now lead by four.
They've got to keep getting stops. As long as KG is fired up and determined to shut the Mavs down, you have to like their chances.
Third quarter, 7:05, Mavs 66-65: The Celtics' Big Three has come out firing again in the third quarter – a 3 from Ray (six away from Reggie), a couple free throws from KG and now a Pierce layup off a Ray assist.
The three vets have combined for 36 of the Celtics' 65 points.
Third quarter, 7:43, Mavs 66-63: Kevin Garnett gets to the basket and takes a hard foul from J.J. Barea. KG comes up raring to go with Barea, but Tyson Chandler among others are there to jump in and break things up.
KG manages to make two free throws despite appearing very, very rattled. He got T'd up, and he's not happy about it.
Whatever happened to his "I don't care about nobodies anymore" rule?
Third quarter, 9:45, Mavs 61-55: Ray Allen knocks down a 3 early in the third quarter, closing the gap to three and moving to within seven of Reggie Miller. But Dirk Nowitzki answers with a 3 of his own, and the Mavs remain in control.
The C's need stops. The energy still just isn't there on defense.
Doc Rivers has kept saying that Perk's return will bring the starting five back to full strength defensively, but now we're seeing that that might take a while.
Halftime, Mavs 54-51: The Celtics call a timeout to map out one last play before halftime, and it works out. KG misses the deep jumper, but Kendrick Perkins comes up with a nice offensive board and a putback.
It's not enough to give the Celtics the lead, though. Dallas remains ahead by three despite allowing the Celtics to shoot 57.5 percent. The defense just hasn't been there.
J.J. Barea has 11 points and Jason Terry has nine. The Celtics got 12 points from Kevin Garnett in the first quarter, but his shooting went flat in the second.
The C's need ball movement and team defense in the second half. Whatever happened to ubuntu?
Second quarter, 2:25, Mavs 50-47: The Celtics get a bucket taken away by a silly traveling violation. They remain down three.
If they could execute better, they'd be in excellent shape in this ballgame. Their shooting obviously isn't the problem — they're over 60 percent for the game at 22-of-36.
Good ball movement, good defense. That's all it takes. Those are supposed to be two of the C's strengths.
Second quarter, 3:59, Mavs 50-45: A second ago, it looked like the Celtics would take the lead, as Kevin Garnett found Ray Allen in the corner for a wide-open 3. Instead Ray misses, the Mavs get the rebound, and Jason Terry quickly knocks down a 3 of his own on the other end.
That's a six point swing. Instead of being up one point, the C's are down five. Ouch.
Second quarter, 6:10, Mavs 45-42: The C's put their starting five back on the floor with 6:22 to play in the first half, and they immediately get a bucket out of Kendrick Perkins, his first of the night. That'll cut the lead to three.
Glen Davis, Marquis Daniels, and Nate Robinson all deserve a pat on the back for their efforts in the second quarter. They've kept this game close, and it's up the starters to cut the rest of the deficit.
Second quarter, 9:33, Mavs 39-34: The Celtics remain in the ballgame with their second unit on the floor, and in a way, that's impressive. Glen Davis is getting destroyed by the taller Dirk Nowitzki on both ends, and the C's have no choice but to settle for lots of jumpers. This is some ugly offense.
If the C's can stay within striking distance until the six-minute mark and then shuffle the starters back in, that would be nice. But don't bet on it.
End of first quarter, Mavs 32-27: Not even an electrifying 3 from Nate Robinson can soften the blow of this ugly first quarter. The Celtics allow the visiting Mavericks to shoot 14-of-21 from the field, 66.6 percent, en route to a seven-point lead.
What was all this talk about the C's defense being at full strength with Kendrick Perkins back in the starting five? That hasn't happened yet at all. Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea, of all people, are having their way with the C's. Chandler has eight points; Barea has nine.
Kevin Garnett is still 6-for-6 for 12 points, but the defense isn't there.
First quarter, 1:37, Mavs 28-22: The dichotomy continues — KG is now 6-for-6, and the rest of the Celtics are 5-for-11. Paul Pierce has already missed a pair of deep 3s.
But the problem isn't their shooting. It's the defense. The Mavs are getting every shot they want with ease. Boston isn't putting up a fight.
J.J. Barea is now 3-for-5. Seems like the Northeastern alum steps up his game every time he returns to Boston.
First quarter, 4:20, 18-18: At the end of the last TV timeout, Kevin Garnett gave the crowd a nice wave to acknowledge the cheers as he was introduced as a 2011 All-Star. On the following play, he showed why he's deserving. KG backs down Tyson Chandler, then turns around and knocks down a high-arching jumper over his outstretched arms. The C's tie the ballgame.
KG is now 5-for-5 from the field. The rest of the Celtics are 4-for-9.
First quarter, 6:19, Mavs 14-12: The Big Ticket has been big early. Kevin Garnett is 4-for-4 from the field, getting a few easy ones inside and also knocking down a 15-footer.
Dirk Nowitzki has been trying for 13 years to guard KG. He still hasn't figured it out.
First quarter, 8:53, Celtics 8-7: The Celtics are off to a great start offensively, as each of the veteran Big Three has already scored. Kevin Garnett is 2-for-2, having already gotten a couple of nice looks inside.
The defense still needs a little time to gel, though. Jason Kidd and J.J. Barea have both gotten easy jumpers already. The C's need to close out on those shooters.
First quarter, 11:43, Celtics 2-0: Kendrick Perkins wins the opening tip — it's the first time this season, and certainly not the last.
The C's get a bucket from Paul Pierce inside to start the ballgame. Perhaps the captain is returning to his dominant first-quarter ways.
7:55 p.m.: So we know for a fact that Perk is back in the starting five now. We don't, however, have any idea if it'll last.
Perk isn't back permanently — or if he is, Doc Rivers isn't admitting it. At the moment, he's just an injury fill-in for Shaquille O'Neal, who's day to day.
6 p.m.: Welcome to the TD Garden, where Shaquille O'Neal is out of commission and Kendrick Perkins will finally get his first start on Friday night against the Dallas Mavericks.
While the Celtics' 38-year-old center rests his sore Achilles, Perkins will step into the starting five in his sixth game back from ACL surgery. The last time Perk started an NBA game was Game 6 of the Finals last June; it's been a long road back.
As Perk gets the start O'Neal-lessly, Semih Erden will be his primary backup.
8 a.m.: Between the end of January and the beginning of February, the Celtics are enduring two of the toughest stretches of their season. One was a West Coast road trip, with four games packed into six days. That one's over.
The other stretch is less rigorous travel-wise, as the C's are at home for five of their last six games before the All-Star break hits. But look at who they're playing. They start out against the visiting Dallas Mavericks on Friday night, and their next three home games are against Orlando, Miami and then a rematch with the mighty Lakers. It doesn't get much tougher.
"It think we've just got to take it one game at a time," Kendrick Perkins said. "We won't look ahead on the schedule. Our next opponent is Dallas, and last time we played Dallas, we lost to them. So we're happy to be back at home, and we're kind of in a must-win situation now."
It's not a must-win for any technical or mathematical reason — the Celtics sit comfortably atop the Eastern Conference at the moment, well ahead of Chicago and Miami, and one game won't change that. But the C's will be bloodthirsty against the Mavs on Friday night, and they have their own reasoning.
For starters, they want to start this homestand on a good note. The games won't get any easier from here, and the C's need the confidence boost of an opening win.
And what's more, they're eager to avenge a frustrating loss from earlier this season back in Dallas. The Celtics were in position to win their first meeting on Nov. 8, going on a 9-0 run in the fourth quarter to apparently seize control, but a late scoring spree from Dirk Nowitzki buried them.
The C's will look for payback on Friday night. Tipoff's at 8 p.m.