End of game, Mavericks win 89-73: With no Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo or Brandon Bass, the Celtics finally got positive contributions from Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. The 35 combined points by the duo wasn't enough to overcome Dirk Nowitzki and the surging Mavericks, who have won seven of their last eight games.
The Celtics return to action Wednesday in Oklahoma City. Garnett is expected to be back from dealing with a personal matter then. Rondo will still be serving his two-game suspension for throwing the ball at a referee on Sunday.
Fourth quarter, 2:02, Mavs 89-71: It used to be somewhat unusual that Celtics coach Doc Rivers would disgustedly call a timeout and angrily address a player. Now it seems like a weekly occurence.
Moore, who hit his second 3 earlier in the quarter, was the target of some blunt words by Rivers in a timeout. This one is already chalked up as a loss, but the Boston coach is using the closing minutes as a teaching moment for the young and underused players.
Fourth quarter, 5:13, Mavs 87-66: Nowitzki scored only five points in the second half, but that was all Dallas really needed. The Mavs' lead grew to as many as 26 points in the fourth, with garbage time coming on.
Bradley hit another jumper and E'Twaun Moore came off the bench to knock down a 3. There is time to be had at the point guard position for anyone who steps up to claim it.
Fourth quarter, 8:48, Mavs 80-59: Lamar Odom is on the board. The Celtics just look bored.
Odom scored his first field goal in six attempts with a short jumper to stretch Dallas' lead back above the 20-point mark. His basket came after lazy defense enabled Jones to convert a three-point play the old fashioned way. The basket and foul on Pierce wiped out a 3 by Pierce on the previous play at the other end.
End of third quarter, Mavs 70-53: If the Celtics are to turn things around in the second half of the season, this is the type of play they need from Allen.
Allen drifted into the corner for a 3 and finished with a layup on a break to give him 15 points, tied with Pierce for the team high. Allen hit six of his first 12 shots.
Nobody in a green uniform appeared capable of stopping anybody, though. The Mavericks led by as many as 24 points, and carving away at that lead will be even tougher in the final quarter without their two top remaining big men.
O'Neal (wrist) and Wilcox (groin) went to the trainer's room in the third quarter. O'Neal appeared to pull his wrist playing defense early in the third quarter and played a few more possessions, occasionally tugging at his hand. It was harder to catch any signs of slowness by Wilcox.
Anyway, it will be the Stiemsma and Johnson show the rest of the way.
Third quarter, 4:27, Mavs 61-42: It can be easy to forget that in addition to being a singular ball distributor and ball thief, Kidd has transformed into a dangerous long-range shooter late in his career.
Kidd, third on the NBA's all-time 3-pointers list, hit a trey to put Dallas up by 20 for the first time in this game.
The Celtics, as usual, fell behind in the rebounding battle 35-23. Boston has one offensive rebound. Dallas has 10.
Third quarter, 8:47, Mavs 54-36: It took 3 minutes, 13 seconds for Nowitzki to add five more points to his total. The Celtics, meanwhile, were still looking for their first basket of the second half.
Allen's two free throws were the only scoring for the Celtics since the break.
Halftime, Mavs 44-34: Following at least five straight subpar games by Pierce and Allen (and saying only five games might be being generous), both wing players showed much more aggression in the first half.
Allen made a concerted effort to get to the hoop, scoring on a bank shot in the post and popping in a one-handed dunk on a fastbreak, assisted by Pierce.
Pierce came through with a layup with 19.7 seconds to go to cut Boston's deficit to 10 points heading into halftime.
Now if only the Celtics could do something about Dirk Nowitzki.
The Good: Nowitzki has long been one of the NBA's all-time greats, and last postseason earned legendary status. We often wait until greatness has passed us by to appreciate it. Right now, Nowitzki has 21 points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots — at halftime. … Avery Bradley is no Rajon Rondo, but the second-year guard out of Texas continued to play strong in place of the All-Star. Bradley knocked down four midrange jump shots and played tough defense on Jason Kidd and Jason Terry.
The Bad: Lamar Odom took three shots, missed all of them, and as usual looked entirely lost in the Dallas system. The versatile Rhode Island product has really struggled getting adjusted in Dallas after spending 11 of his first 12 seasons in Los Angeles.
The So-so: Pierce went 4-for-8 from the floor to lead the Celtics with 11 points and also swiped all three of the Celtics' steals. Allen was 4-for-8 as well and scored eight points, and missed both his 3-point attempts. It will take more than a solid performance to overcome Nowitzki, though.
Second quarter, 1:26, Mavs 42-32: Nineteen points and 10 rebounds is a good game's worth of production for most power forwards. For Nowitzki, it's less than two quarters' worth of work.
Second quarter, 3:34, Mavs 37-26: If Ray Allen could take it to the rim more often, defenders wouldn't be able to crowd him so aggressively on pick and rolls and he'd get a few more open 3-point looks.
Allen showed he still has a little explosiveness in his legs with a burst to the hoop for a layup.
One drive couldn't erase Nowitzki's relentlessness, however. Nowitzki's 17 points are just three 3-point field goals short of tying the Celtics' entire scoring output thus far.
Second quarter, 5:52, Mavs 33-12: When Nowitzki is on the opposite team, it doesn't take long for a close game to get out of hand. Dirk went to the line twice — making all four free throws, of course — and then knocked down a free throw line jumper.
Before the jumper, Jason Kidd apparently picked up his 2,515th career steal to pass Michael Jordan for No. 2 on the NBA's career steals list.
Only 750 more steals to go to match John Stockton, Jason. That should only take you about another six years, or until you're roughly 44 years old.
Second quarter, 9:48, Mavs 25-17: Carter and Jason Terry partied like it's 2004 in the opening minutes of the second quarter.
Carter absorbed some contact and finished with a strong running bank shot, while Jones penetrated and dished to Terry for a triple. The veteran swingmen gave the Mavericks their largest lead of the game at eight points.
End of first quarter, Mavs 20-15: Mickael Pietrus is truly in a slump. The veteran swingman, who shoots 36 percent from deep, had a wide-open 3-pointer from the corner and the ball went halfway down before it rattled out.
Pietrus was finally able to get one to fall when he ran off a screen on the opposite corner. Four straight points by Pierce closed the Celtics to within 17-15, but Dallas youngsters Ian Mahinmi and Dominique Jones were able to push it back to a multiple-possession advantage through their hustle.
On another note, do you think the people who shelled out hundreds of bucks for select seats to this game expected to watch the riveting matchup of Greg Stiemsma and Ian Mahinmi in the first quarter?
First quarter, 4:23, Mavs 13-8: With no Garnett in the lineup, that leaves Chris Wilcox, O'Neal, Greg Stiemsma and possibly JaJuan Johnson to guard Dirk Nowitzki in this game.
Nowitzki looked like a man who has a big night in mind. After Pierce tied the game at 4-4, Nowitzki scored seven points in a 9-2 Dallas run that put the Celtics in a 13-6 hole.
Bradley, who has been spending some time in the gym, dropped his third midrange jumper of the game for the C's.
First quarter, 7:07, Mavericks 8-6: Avery Bradley, of all people, came out with the hot hand, knocking down two jumpers in the opening minutes.
Jermaine O'Neal picked up two blocks in the early going, including a clean stuff of a Vince Carter dunk attempt in a one-one-one situation on the fast break.
7:45 p.m.: As you are probably aware, Rajon Rondo is out for this game to serve the first game of a two-game suspension for flipping the ball at a referee on Sunday.
Avery Bradley will start while Rondo serves his (deserved) suspension.
Compounding the selfishness of Rondo's actions Sunday, the Celtics were already without Kevin Garnett, who will miss his second straight game to deal with a family matter.
So without two All-Stars and having lost five of their last six games, the Celtics (15-15) take on the defending champion Mavericks (20-12), who had won six straight prior to Sunday's loss to the Knicks. What can go wrong?
The projected starting lineups appear below.
9:30 a.m. ET: The Mavericks will be recovering from a case of Linsomnia when they host the Celtics on Monday night.
The strugglings C's, losers of three straight, play the first of two straight road games against Western Conference contenders, most likely without forward Kevin Garnett. Garnett missed Sunday's game in Detroit for personal reasons and was not expected to make the trip to Dallas.
The Celtics are also awaiting word on possible further discipline for Rajon Rondo, who was ejected Sunday for arguing a call and flipping a ball at a referee's chest.
The Mavericks are coming off a 104-97 loss to the Knicks and budding star Jeremy Lin, who dropped 28 points and 14 assists against the reigning champions on Sunday.
Join us for updates and analysis during the game, which is set for an 8 p.m. ET tip-off.
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