Final, Mavericks win 94-89: Another game, another close loss for the Boston Celtics, who are showing their youth and inexperience in close games.
Jerryd Bayless scored 19 points for the Celtics (22-46), matching Dirk Nowitzki for the game’s high. But late-game execution and lack of knowledge of time and situation did in the Celtics.
They fought back despite shooting just 37 percent and dominated the Dallas Mavericks (41-27) on the glass57-36. The Mavs just know how to win these types of games, though. The Celtics don’t.
Fourth quarter, :05, Mavs 94-89: Bayless and diehard Celtics fans will be screaming for a foul, but it doesn’t matter. Bayless corralled an offensive rebound and attempted a layup that was blocked, but at that point, after so much time came off the clock, he should have pulled it back out and looked for three.
Marion hits both free throws and the Celtics are headed for another gut-wrenching defeat.
Fourth quarter, :19.8, Mavs 92-89: This time, they actually fouled. The Celtics didn’t have a repeat of last night’s snafu, when they failed to give a foul in the clutch. They fouled Ellis early, and he converted both.
Let’s see what Stevens draws up. The Celtics have the choice to go for a quick two, but it’s got to be quick. If any more than a few seconds come off the clock without them getting an easy look, they have to pull or kick it out and look for three.
Fourth quarter, :21.6, Mavs 90-89: An NBA game was scheduled and a youth YMCA game broke out.
Bradley rips away the steal and dunks at the other end to pull Boston within a point, but the previous two possessions resembled kids’ ball: Just throw the ball at the hoop and chase it. Sully and Olynyk answered Wright’s putback by battling on the glass, eventually getting a tip-in by Olynyk.
Fourth quarter, :53, Mavs 90-85: The rest of the Celtics must have thought this was the Jerryd Bayless Show, because they sort of just stood around watching after a pair of Dallas misses. Brandan Wright tipped home Ellis’ miss to give Dallas a two-possession lead.
Fourth quarter, 1:16, Mavs 88-85: I was tough on Bayless earlier, but he’s been massive in the last two minutes. He hit back-to-back jumpers to pull Boston within two, then answered an Ellis three with a corner trey of his own.
After Nowitzki, who’s a beast, drilled a three himself, Bayless drew a foul and dropped both freebies. Fun times.
Fourth quarter, 5:02, Mavs 78-74: Here it comes. After a slow start to the quarter, the Celtics have stormed back to make it a game.
Is this part of their gameplan or something?
Bayless and Bradley bury triples to pull Boston within four, giving the Celtics some late life again. If they can execute in crunchtime — which is a big “if” — they might be able to make things interesting here.
Keep in mind, though, that Nowitzki is on the bench at the moment. Matters will tilt heavily in Dallas’ favor once he re-enters for the stretch run.
Fourth quarter, 6:33, Mavs 76-66: Derp. The Celtics are just doing some things a professional basketball team should not do right now.
Green was caught shuffling his feet before his move to the hoop, drawing a deserved travel. Then after a defensive stop, Olynyk grabbed the rebound and threw an outlet pass to Bayless. But Bayless wasn’t looking, except once the ball was already headed out of bounds.
I don’t know what Bayless was thinking, but I don’t know what a guard — nominally a ball-handler — thinks his big man is going to do after a defensive rebound. Dance with it? Expect the pass, Jerryd. You’re the guard here. I think they cover that in like the third day of practice when you’re 8 years old.
Fourth quarter, 7:56, Mavs 74-66: Pressey and Johnson are hustling all over the place, making plays that otherwise wouldn’t be made for the Celtics. But the Mavs are offsetting that by just plain playing better.
Once again, the Celtics are getting blown away to start a quarter. This time, at least, it’s not due to lack of effort. Pressey made a stellar hustle play by coming back inbounds to recover his own missed layup, then flipping the ball to a cutting Johnson for a layup. Pressey then almost stole the ball from Nowitzki on defense.
But the Mavs are just making more shots in the fourth thus far, which is all that really matters. They’ve doubled up the Celtics, 10-5, after a fast-break dunk by Dirk, who’s not known for his open-court slams.
End of third quarter, Mavs 64-61: If you can figure this team out, please, explain it to me.
The Celtics held the Mavs scoreless over the final four minutes to pull within three points heading into the fourth quarter. They actually had a chance to tie it on a three by Johnson, but he missed, then Bayless took his sweet time generating a bad look on the final play of the quarter.
Kelly Olynyk has been a neat little player, tipping home a miss and converting an old-fashioned three-point play on a drive to the hoop. He even gave the extra “and-one” motion with his finger to drive home the point.
Third quarter, 2:31, Mavs 64-56: So the Celtics haven’t completely packed it in for the road trip, at least. Green knocks down a three after Johnson buried a baseline jumper and the Celtics are on a 7-0 run to give Dallas a reason to play.
Third quarter, 4:15, Mavs 64-49: All right, who forgot to tell the Celtics the second half had started? Dallas has burst out to its largest lead of the game by outscoring the Celtics 14-6 since the break.
Jose Calderon and Marion, with his atrocious shooting mechanics, have threes for the Mavs, who are threatening to turn this into a laugher.
Third quarter, 5:44, Mavs 59-49: Whatever effort the Celtics’ reserves showed in the first half, the starters sure aren’t picking up on to begin the second half.
Stevens subbed in Johnson and Sullinger to try to inject some life into the troops after the sleepwalking Celts let Dallas open up a double-digit lead early in the third quarter. Aside from Humphries, who has five points and 13 rebounds, the Celtics’ starters aren’t showing much in the work department.
It’s the second leg of a back-to-back. We know that. But the first six minutes of this quarter have been like a lullaby.
Halftime, Mavs 50-43: Vince Carter isn’t the player he once was in Toronto, but the old man can still score. Half-Man, Half-Amazing is a higher percentage of man nowadays, but he is Dallas’ second-leading scorer with nine points.
He’s also 0-for-5 beyond the arc, but nobody ever accused Vinsanity of getting cheated on his shots.
The Mavs have narrowed their deficit on the glass a bit to 26-19, but the Celtics still can’t buy a bucket. Boston is shooting 37 percent from the field and is fortunate Dallas is just 5-for-18 from deep.
Second quarter, 2:47, Mavs 41-40: Sullinger is really playing his rear end off. And for him, that’s saying something.
Sully has a game-high 11 points on 5-for-8 shooting, but that’s not what’s made his night so impressive so far. He’s doing his work inside and out, operating out of the low post, midrange and 3-point (although he’s only taken — and missed — one three), and he’s showing Dallas how to work in the paint.
The Celtics could probably use Sully doing a bit more damage down low, though, as they’re getting beaten 22-14 on points in the paint. As long as they keep taking care of Dallas on the glass, with a 23-16 rebounding edge so far, the Celtics probably won’t complain.
Second quarter, 5:35, game tied 37-37: Johnson isn’t the only Celtics player flying around and making extra plays. Sullinger got his hands on on what should have been an easy Sam Dalembert outlet pass and earned himself a steal.
The Mavs have responded after the Celtics’ 13-0 run momentarily gave them a four-point lead, but this has been another strong effort by the Celtics despite not hitting their shots. Of course, they’d probably rather not have to work as hard and just hit their shots, but we can’t all have everything we want.
Oh, by the way. Apparently this happened:
Second quarter, 8:36, Mavs 33-32: Probably the best thing you can say about Chris Johnson is that he doesn’t let his offense dictate his defense.
Johnson, who originally joined the Celtics on a 10-day contract and eventually was signed through the end of the season, drilled a 3-pointer as part of an 8-0 run to pull the Celtics within one. But that shot came after he was whistled for steps on a pump-fake, a call he did not agree with.
Still, he recovered to haul down a loud rebound at the other end a few possessions later and then picked up a low pass from Phil Pressey to rattle in that three.
End of first quarter, Mavs 26-22: It’s not often the Celtics have a size advantage on the front line, but they’ve enjoyed one for most of the game so far.
Shaun Marion and DaJuan Blair, each at 6-foot-7, manned the paint for the Mavs for much of the first quarter. Jared Sullinger, Brandon Bass and Kelly Olynyk didn’t enjoy the height advantage nearly as much as they could have, however. The Celtics have scored eight points in the paint, losing the battle there to the Mavs, who have 10.
Sully is doing his work, though. He is tied with Dirk Nowitzki as the game’s high scorer so far, with six points, but he’s not exactly bulling down low. He actually had a nifty drive for a reverse layup where he definitely didn’t look 280 pounds.
The Celtics are doing their work on the glass, winning the rebounding battle 16-9. They just need to figure out a way to get the ball in the hole. They are 8-for-22 from the field (36 percent) and 1-for-4 from three.
First quarter, 6:10, Celtics 11-10: Nobody’s been doing a whole lot of hitting shots here. When shots have gone done, the Celtics have done a slightly better job of it so far.
Jeff Green and Avery Bradley are off the type of start that should encourage Celtics fans, although they are just 2-for-7 combined from the field. The fact that they’ve taken that many shots early, with Green especially taking the ball to the rim, shows they are being aggressive.
7:08 p.m.: A lot more is riding on this game than you might realize.
This is the Boston Celtics’ last road game of the season against a Western Conference opponent, which would normally be really good news. It’s no secret the West is much tougher than the East. What’s striking is just how much better it is. A quick glance at the standings reveals the Phoenix Suns, at 38-28, sitting outside the playoff picture in the West.
In the East, they’d be the No. 3 seed.
Here’s the catch, though: The Celtics are 0-14 on the road against the West this season. A loss tonight would drop them to 0-15, marking the first time the franchise has ever gone winless on the road against the conference for a whole season. That’s a stunning mark.
Even more daunting, they’ll have to try to win without Rajon Rondo, who is sidelined as usual for the second game of a back-to-back. Avery Bradley, playing his third game since returning from an ankle injury, will start alongside Jerryd Bayless in the backcourt.
The projected starters appear below.
8 a.m. ET: There’s always the next game for the Boston Celtics to undo the mistakes of games past. Well, not “always,” but you get the idea.
The Celtics (22-45) will take the court in the Lone Star State against the Dallas Mavericks (40-27) on Monday, hoping to halt their losing streak and fix the late-game problems that have plagued them over the last two games. Stopping the Mavs won’t be a simple task, since Rick Carlisle is one of the best coaches in the business and Dirk Nowitzki remains an offensive force. Dallas also is scratching and clawing for a Western Conference playoff spot.
The Celtics almost played spoiler for a team in a similar situation two games ago, however, before falling apart in the final minute against the Phoenix Suns. Boston will try to apply what it’s learned from that meltdown — as well as Sunday’s defeat in New Orleans — on the second night of a back-to-back.
Rajon Rondo, as usual, will not play, but Avery Bradley is expected to be in uniform at AmericanAirlines Center.
Join us for updates and analysis during the game, which tips off at 8:30 p.m.
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