Entering Tuesdays game, the Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks could relate to each other having disappointed mightily with their respective starts this season.
And the Celtics clawed their way back from 12-point deficit in the fourth, showing grit and seemed destined to pull off the comeback thanks to late efforts from Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker.
But Mavericks’ wonderboy Luka Doncic hit two tough 3-pointers that came up clutch for Dallas, helping it close out a 110-107 win to improve to 15-15.
Doncic had a game-high 31 points for the Mavericks.
Boston fell to 15-16 with the loss, despite solid contributions from Brown (29 points, seven rebounds, five assists, two steals), Tatum (28 points, six rebounds, four assists) and Walker (21 points).
Losing their second straight certainly hurts, but when Doncic hits two shots like that, there’s not much you can do.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Kemba Walker
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Daniel Theis
C: Tristan Thompson
ALL-STARS GONNA ALL-STAR
Tatum, Brown and Doncic were announced to the NBA All-Star team prior to the game, and they showed they were deserving early, leading their teams out of the gate.
Tatum and Brown had nine points apiece for the Celtics in the opening quarter.
Additionally, Walker supported with five points of his own to add some balance to the starting rotation’s scoring effort.
But Doncic’s game-high 11-points led the way for Dallas, and he did this:
At the end of the quarter, the Mavericks narrowly led the Celtics 33-31, despite shooting just 25% from 3-point range.
Rookie Payton Pritchard, getting subbed in and providing a bit of a spark for Boston, gave it some momentum with a lob to Robert Williams late in the frame.
It remained a tight game through the second, with neither team creating more than five points of separation.
Pritchard kept dishing the ball, setting Semi Ojeleye with a corner trey that tied up the game.
Pritchard even hit a triple of his own after experiencing a bit of a rut with shooting of late.
But still, Tatum and Brown did most of the heavy lifting for Boston. Brown ended the half with 14 points, three rebounds and three assists while Tatum had a game-high 15 points and three rebounds.
Doncic was a bit quieter in the second, through he still entered the break with 14 points and five assists. Teammate Josh Richardson, however, eased his offensive burden with 14 points of his own.
The Mavericks shot better than the Celtics by the end of the second, yet Boston managed to lead Dallas 56-55 at halftime.
ICE COLD STRETCHES
Third quarters routinely are the bane of the Celtics’ existence, but this time, they benefitted from a 7-0 run to go out to their largest lead of the game to that point.
After that, both teams couldn’t score to save their lives, with the game going scoreless for nearly five minutes until Dallas managed to tie it up again as Tim Hardaway started going off.
Doncic hit a 3-point jumper late in the game after Tatum brought Boston within one, and Dallas led 80-76 entering the final quarter.
NEED THIS W
Walker entered the fourth shooting just 3-for-12 from the field and 1-for-6 from deep. That changed when the Celtics needed it, and he hit two consecutive shots to put the Celtics up by one.
This block and saved basket from Williams helped, too.
Unfortunately for the Celtics, the Mavericks managed to pull out to a seven point lead inside the five-minute mark, tied for their largest of the game to that point that was extended to 12 within minutes.
Walker assisted Tatum on a deep jumper with 2:30 to play that made it a four-point game to make things interesting, though. Then Tatum returned the favor, and a Walker 3-pointer saw the Celtics trail 104-103.
Brown hustled hard for the go-ahead jumper to top off a 16-3 run, but Doncic worked like hell to get a 3 off after tough defense from Brown and Theis.
Brown hit a shot on the other end, but the legend of Luka continued.
The Celtics are back at it Wednesday night, with the second game of a back-to-back against the Hawks in Atlanta at 7:30 p.m. ET.