There were a lot of things to like about the Boston Celtics’ game against the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night, but the final result wasn’t one of them.
The Celtics overcame a horrible first quarter and erased an early 17-point deficit to force overtime with some clutch play at American Airlines Center. But the Mavericks wouldn’t be denied, catching fire in the extra period to hold on for a 118-113 win.
Texas native Marcus Smart had an excellent night, tallying 20 points and eight rebounds in his homecoming. Isaiah Thomas also added 20 points, while Avery Bradley scored 19 and Jared Sullinger notched his second double-double in three games with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Dirk Nowitzki was a beast for the Mavs, pouring in a game-high 31 points.
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the C’s and dropped them to 22-20 on the season.
Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Jared Sullinger, Amir Johnson
The Celtics’ starters couldn’t buy a bucket out of the gate.
Boston’s starting unit hit just one of its first 15 shots to fall into a brutal 17-2 deficit, as nearly everything they threw at the rim — 3-pointers, midrange shots, layups — wouldn’t go down.
Fortunately, the bench provided relief in the form of Smart, who scored 11 points in the final four minutes of the quarter to keep things somewhat reasonable.
LONE STAR POWER OUTAGE
Boston’s two best offensive players didn’t play the part in the first half.
Thomas and Jae Crowder were ice cold through the first two quarters, shooting a combined 1 for 13 from the field with just two points, which Thomas tallied on a layup right before halftime. Crowder had a particularly tough time in his first trip to Dallas since the club traded him and seemed to be forcing things a bit offensively.
Offense wasn’t a problem for Dallas, though, as the Mavs drilled 7 of 14 3-pointers in the first half. Wesley Matthews led the way early, going 3 for 5 from distance for 15 first half points.
SIGNS OF LIFE
Whatever pep talk head coach Brad Stevens gave at halftime, it worked.
The Celtics came storming back in the third quarter thanks to their tenacious defense and an offensive awakening from Thomas, who dropped 12 points in the frame with some strong finishing at the rim.
Boston shot 55 percent (12 for 22) in the quarter and frustrated Dallas’ offense to the tune of four steals. Despite trailing by as many as 17 points, the Celtics entered the fourth quarter with a two-point lead.
Nowitzki reverted to vintage form in the fourth quarter.
The perennial All-Star poured in 14 points in the final 12 minutes, including this huge four-point play with 1:27 remaining that put Dallas back in the driver’s seat:
CROWDER IN THE CLUTCH
Crowder had ice in his veins against his old team.
Crowder was fouled shooting a 3-pointer with 6.7 seconds remaining in regulation but calmly drilled all three free throws to force overtime.
DELIVERING FROM DEEP
The Mavericks put the game away with the long ball.
Dallas nailed four 3-pointers in the overtime period, including two from Deron Williams and a corner three from Nowitzki with 35 seconds remaining that sealed Boston’s fate.
PLAY OF THE NIGHT
Smart finished a rough first quarter on a high note with a deep three at the buzzer:
The Celtics will head north of the border to take on the Toronto Raptors, who have won five straight and own the Eastern Conference’s second-best record at 26-15. Tip-off at Air Canada Centre is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
Thumbnail photo via Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36), forward Amir Johnson (90) and guard Evan Turner (11) fight for the loose ball with Dallas Mavericks guard Wesley Matthews (23) during the first half at the American Airlines Center.
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