Celtics Live Blog: Dirk Nowitzki’s Three-Point Play With Five Seconds Left Hands C’s Agonizing Defeat

Celtics Live Blog: Dirk Nowitzki's Three-Point Play With Five Seconds Left Hands C's Agonizing Defeat

End of game, Mavericks win 90-85: For good measure, Terry grabs the inbound pass, runs away from the Celtics and scores a layup to make the win look at least a field goal better in the boxscore.

The Celtics played strong down the stretch, but their tired legs could not carry them all the way. Ultimately, the even older team was the one that was able to pull out the win.

Fourth quarter, :04.3, Mavericks 88-85: Well, Allen couldn't catch the inbound pass and lost the ball out of bounds. Dallas ball. That should about do it.

Fourth quarter, :05.1, Mavericks 88-85: If the Celtics have another miracle, they will need it for the final play of regulation. Nowitzki beat Garnett and hit a layup, drawing a foul from Bass in the process.

Dirk hit the free throw for a three-point lead.

Fourth quarter, :25, game tied 85-85: He was 2-for-4 from the field. He had four points. He had not taken a 3-pointer the entire game.

Anyway, with 25 seconds to go, Paul Pierce stepped up and drilled a long ball to tie the game.

It followed a dunk by Garnett that closed the gap to 84-82 and West splitting a pair of free throws that gave Dallas an 85-82 lead.

Then Pierce tied it.

Fourth quarter, 1:32, Mavericks 84-80: If the Celtics lose this game, it won't be for lack of opportunities.

Pierce was fouled en route to the hoop, but he could only drop one of two free throws. Then Garnett missed a wide-open jump shot. Not the C's forced a 24-second violation and will see what they can do.

Fourth quarter, 2:43, Mavericks 84-79: The common thread in all the positive stretches for the Celtics during this game has been defense. After tying the game, defensive breakdowns led to three easy baskets for Dallas.

Failure to box out to cover for a help defender gave Mahinmi and easy putback, excessive gambling opened up Terry for a 3 off a feed from Nowitzki, and Pierce and Allen watched Terry dribble sloooooooowly down the lane for a layup.

A Rondo layup helped but only a little.

Fourth quarter, 6:04, game tied 77-77: The river of technical fouls appeared to energize the Celtics, who immediately responded with a basket by Garnett and a corner 3 by Allen, as only Allen does, to begin their comeback.

The Celtics outscored the Mavericks 11-3 over the stretch, getting two free throws from KG, a step-back jumper by Rondo and a driving layup by Rondo, made possible by a great seal of two defenders by Garnett.

Fourth quarter, 9:12, Mavericks 72-66: Referee Josh Tiven is having an, uh, eventful night.

Tiven gave the two technicals to Carlisle earlier, and whistled the Celtics bench (it appeared to be Rondo) for a technical foul. He then waited for Beaubois to miss a fastbreak layup before blowing a late whistle on Dooling.

To cap it all off, Tiven added a technical on Rivers. T's for everyone!

End third quarter, Mavericks 68-59: Pietrus certainly adds a new dimension to the Celtics with his length and athleticism. He picked the pocket of Terry, leading to an open-court dunk that brought the crowd briefly to its feet while narrowing the Mavs' lead to seven points.

Beaubois answered just 15 seconds later with a floater to give the Mavericks a nine-point lead with 3.7 seconds on the clock, assuring that the Celtics will have to mount a fairly impressive comeback in the fourth quarter if they hope to win.

Third quarter, 3:08, Mavericks 63-53: O'Neal made a few bad fouls and the brain cramps sparked the Mavericks during a 10-1 run.

After an O'Neal foul resulted in two free throws for Carter, who made both, O'Neal was called for an offensive foul on the other end. O'Neal then picked up his third personal foul by hacking Haywood as the shot clock wound down, giving Dallas another free point.

A Marion jumper (if you can call his ugly shot that), an Odom 3, a pair of free throw misses by Rondo and a turnaround one-hander by Marion put the Celtics in a deep deficit. The only Boston scoring during the run was a foul shot by Bass.

Third quarter, 5:46, Mavericks 53-52: Allen became more aggressive after halftime and that was a good thing for the Celtics. After attempting just three shots in the entire first half, Allen has already taken three in the second half.

After West tied the game at 49-49, a Marion turnaround gave the Mavericks the lead, which they've held thanks to a Haywood dunk.

Third quarter, 10:34, Celtics 47-42: Dallas coach Rick Carlisle picked up a swift two technical fouls and assistant Terry Stotts will call the shots for the Mavs the rest of the way.

Allen hit both free throws.

Third quarter, 10:43, Celtics 45-42: The Celtics coming out running their offense, taking the lead on a jumper by Allen and extending it on another jumper by O'Neal.

Halftime, Mavericks 42-41: The Celtics went back to man-to-man defense at just the right time. On what appeared to be their first defensive possession back in man defense, the Celtics forced a 24-second violation. After Terry missed a 3 and stole the ball back, the C's forced another 24-second violation.

Now the good, the bad and the so-so.

The Good: Rajon Rondo has been all over the place. He led the Celtics with 16 points and three assists and shared the team lead with Jermaine O'Neal of two steals. Rondo is 4-for-9 from the floor and 8-for-10 from the charity stripe in 19:45. … Delonte West showed he is comfortable on the parquet. He scored the Mavericks' first six points and also handed out three assists in 15:54. With Jason Kidd injured and Dallas coach Rick Carlisle not entirely trusting of Roddy Beaubois, West's scoring and his one turnover must be encouraging for the defending champs. … Mickael Pietrus made an impact in his first 6:46 in green, nailing a 3-pointer and playing tough defense.

The Bad: Dirk Nowitzki has not looked sharp in any game all season, and the first half was no exception. The reigning Finals MVP was 2-of-8 from the field and only got to seven first-half points by going 3-for-3 from the foul line in 18:15.

The So-so: Avery Bradley played his usual hard defense, but he was a little too amped up for a wide-open 3-point attempt from the top of the key. Bradley's shot was a brick to the right that might not have even caught iron. He redeemed himself with a nice cutting layup off a feed from Garnett.

Second quarter, 2:22, Mavericks 42-27: It was a little surprising to see the Celtics come out in a zone defense after the last timeout. The zone threw off the Mavericks for a while, however, allowing the Celtics to pull within a point at 34-33.

As with all zone defenses, defensive rebounding was a problem. That gave the Mavericks multiple opportunities on several possessions, leading to a 3 by Terry, a jumper by Nowitzki and a layup by Marion after Boston had recorded defensive stops. Dallas has seven offensive rebounds in the game.

Rondo kept attacking the rim, giving the Celtics their only real scoring threat apart from a jumper by Allen off a screen. Rondo has 14 points on 4-of-8 shooting.

Second quarter, 6:42, Mavericks 32-26: Defensive teams can score in bunches, but they can also fall victim to some close plays.

Mahinmi's spin move appeared to knock over Bass, and the crowd was unhappy there was no offensive foul call. The fans also voiced their displeasure when Bradley, pressing Terry full-court, was whistled for a personal foul near midcourt.

Second quarter, 8:38, Mavericks 27-22: Rivers went with a defensive lineup of Garnett, Avery Bradley, Pietrus and Keyon Dooling, with Bass as the main offensive option, and the move paid off for a stretch.

Sparke by Pietrus' 3-pointer, the Celtics went on a 7-2 run that was only broken by two free throws by Nowitzki. A Bass jumpshot and Bradley layup on a post assist from Garnett helped close the gap for the C's.

End first quarter, Mavericks 23-15: If any team looked like the one playing the second night of a back-to-back, it was the Celtics in the first quarter.

The Mavericks, who beat the Pistons on Tuesday, got some nice energy from West in the starting lineup. The Celtics grasped for someone to match that energy but couldn't find it.

Proving luck favors the team that works harder, Ian Mahinmi flailed for a Dallas miss and got a look-what-I-found putback at the buzzer to give the Mavericks an eight-point lead.

First quarter, 1:25, Mavericks 19-13: Mickael Pietrus enters for the first time as a Celtic, attracting a large ovation from the Garden crowd.

First quarter, 3:00, Mavericks 17-9: Rondo missed a wide-open bounce pass to Allen on the break, costing the Celtics a point when Rondo was fouled and only made on of two free throws.

Rondo has been Boston's main source of offense so far, but it's fair to guess Rivers didn't want his point guard attempting six shots in the first nine minutes. His opposite number, West, is playing lights-out. His drive-and-dish to Marion for a dunk gave West six points and two assists in the early going.

Keyon Dooling and Brandon Bass entered for Garnett and Allen to try to give the Celtics a spark.

First quarter, 10-2, Mavericks 10-2: The four-day layoff does not appear to have cured the Celtics of the shooting funk they suffered in their last game against the Pacers.

The Celtics opened the game by missing nine of their first 10 shots. A layup by Rondo was the only make.

The Mavericks, meanwhile, have six points from West, a bank shot by Dirk and a dunk by Carter — which used to be a common occurence but qualifies as breaking news nowadays.

The Celtics were called for a delay of game, and coach Doc Rivers clearly voiced his unhappiness during the stoppage.

First quarter, 9:20, Mavericks 4-0: West, the former Celtic who still has a sympathetic following in Boston from the sound of the the crowd, is the only starter who came out looking halfway sharp. His two jumpshots are the only scoring so far as Rondo, Garnett and O'Neal took turns missing shots.

8:04 p.m.: Marquis Daniels and Pietrus are both active, which gives the Celtics two solid wing defenders.

The Celtics will probably need both of them against a team that is deep in proven perimeter scorers. Vince Carter is still capable of filling it up at age 34, and Lamar Odom may be having a difficult start to his season, but his two championship rings didn't just magically appear.

7:40 p.m.: The last players on the court getting up extra shots in pregame were Jason Terry, Dominique Jones and West.

Terry and West are shooting slightly below their career marks. Terry is shooting .433 percent compared to a career field goal percentage of .449.

West, a career .447 shooter, is down to .435 through 10 games.

While Terry and West were looking to hone their strokes, Jones was likely just trying to get some shots up. The second-year guard out of South Florida has attempted 14 shots in eight games.

Mickael Pietrus is expected to make his debut for the Celtics off the bench.

7:10 p.m.: Paul Pierce may have been surprised Delonte West chose to sign with the Mavericks rather than return to the Celtics, but there is no surprise that West will start at point guard Wednesday for Dallas.

West started the last two games for Jason Kidd, who is out with a sore back and a result of a collision with San Antonio's Dajuan Blair. Kidd's condition was reportedly so bad during the Mavs' visit to the White House on Sunday that he had to walked crooked over like an old man and frequently stopped during the tour to sit down.

West has started nine of Dallas' 10 games, averaging 7.8 points and 3.8 assists per game. Running the point the last two games, he is averaging 9.0 points and 7.5 assists, including a season-high 10 assists in Tuesday's win over the Pistons.

Here are the projected starting lineups:

Mavericks
Brendan Haywood
Dirk Nowitzki
Shawn Marion
Vince Carter
Delonte West

Celtics
Jermaine O'Neal
Kevin Garnett
Paul Pierce
Ray Allen
Rajon Rondo 

8 a.m.: Plan on partying like it's 1999 at the TD Garden on Wednesday night.

The defending champion Dallas Mavericks visit the Celtics in a game that will feature two of the oldest teams in the NBA. Seven of the 10 players expected to start were in the NBA before Y2K; Rajon Rondo, Brendan Haywood and Delonte West are the exceptions.

Join us for updates and analysis as we creak through the game. Tip-off is 8 p.m.

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