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With less than three minutes to go, Kendrick Perkins hit a layup to give the Celtics a 97-91 lead over the Dallas Mavericks Friday night at the Garden. In the back-and-forth affair, it seemed the C’s were starting to take the upper hand and a few more baskets would end it. But, they never came.
All of a sudden clinging to a 97-96 lead with 15 seconds to go, the Celtics turned to Kevin Garnett, who missed a signature jumper. The Mavs were looking to give the ball to Dirk Nowitski, who sunk the winning shot to beat the Celtics in an 89-87 win earlier in the year. Dirk (29 points, 10-10 from the FT line) had a bit of trouble inside, so he kicked it out to Jason Kidd, who drained the go-ahead three with 2.5 seconds to go, sealing the game for the Mavs. After a botched alley-oop attempt, KG fouled Dirk, who hit his two free throws in a 101-97 win in Boston.
Part of the reason for the Celtics’ collapse was the play of both Garnett and Paul Pierce. KG finished with 16 points, but scored only four points after the first quarter and missed 10 of his last 11 attempts from the field. The team still relied on him to seal the game, and he could not get it done.
Pierce, meanwhile, shot 4-10 from the field and just 1-6 from beyond the arc, finishing with 12 points and three turnovers in nearly 40 minutes.
Ray Allen led the Celtics with 24 points, going 3 for 6 from beyond the arc to give him 2,555 career threes. He’s just six behind Reggie Miller for the unbeatable all-time record.
Third on the all-time list is Jason Kidd, who hit two of his five three-point attempts. No shot was bigger though than his clutch dagger with seconds remaining.
“He’s proven over his career that he can knock the 3-ball down,” Allen told reporters after the game. “For most of his career, he hasn’t been given the credit for being able to shoot because he’s been able to do so many other things well. He’s always had the stigma that he was flashy, but he was very effective.”
With Jermaine O’Neal now opting for knee surgery (he will miss 6-8 weeks, which brings him on track to return with a couple of weeks left in the regular season), and Shaquille O’Neal out with an ailing right leg, Kendrick Perkins started and played well. In his 32 minutes, Perk scored 13 points and grabbed 12 rebounds and registered his first blocked shot of the season.
The Celtics will try to recoup from this tough loss on Sunday when they play host to the Orlando Magic. Orlando just got lit up by LeBron James to the tune of 51 points, so they will be hungry for a big win against a contender.