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In the last game before the All-Star break, the Celtics seemed ready to pack it in early as they were down by 15 in the third quarter. Late in that frame, Kevin Garnett received three fouls (two personals, one technical) in a span of just 10 seconds and had to be benched to avoid fouling out. During that sequence, Doc Rivers received two quick technicals and was ejected.
“It gave us a nice little spark,” Pierce said. “It can go one of two ways. The coach is gone in the last game before the All-Star break, you can pack it in. But this group is very competitive. We’re going to fight.”
Rajon Rondo raised his game by pitching in a Jason Kidd-like triple double (19 points, 15 rebounds, and 14 assists) in one of the best games of his career. Paul Pierce again led the Celts when it counted with 31 points, 18 of those coming in the fourth quarter to help Boston to a 99-92 victory Thursday night.
Fighting through a hyper-extended thumb, Ray Allen scored 20 points and was a perfect 8-8 from the FT line. He will still participate in the All-Star game despite the injury.
Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavs with 37 points and eight rebounds, but it was not enough. The Celtics outscored the Mavs 59-41 in the second half on their way to the seven-point victory. The Celts fell back initially because of sloppy play, as evidenced by their 19 turnovers. But, they overcame the TOs with effecient shooting (48.6%).
The Celtics lead the NBA with 44 wins at the All-Star break. The team is off until next Thursday when they face the Jazz in Utah. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen (despite a soar thumb) will be participating in the All-Star Game this weekend.