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The Dallas Mavericks came into Boston on Wednesday night and defeated the Celtics 90-85 in a tight game that included four technical fouls. After a rough start to the season that saw the defending champion Mavericks with a surprising 1-4 record, Dallas (6-5) got back over .500 thanks to clutch play from Dirk Nowitzki down the stretch.
It seemed through the majority of the contest that the Celtics (4-5) were at a notable disadvantage in size and age, however they overcame a 13-point third quarter deficit to tie the game with 25 seconds remaining after a huge 3-point shot from Paul Pierce, who had otherwise been quiet as the Mavericks held him to five shot attempts and 7 points.
However, with 5 seconds remaining in regulation, Nowitzki drove to the basket around Kevin Garnett and tossed in a score and one, which turned out to be the difference as the Celtics fumbled the following inbound pass on the other end. The win was significant for the Mavericks, who continue their rise back to the top of the Western Conference.
Meanwhile, everything this season seems to be a struggle for the Celtics, as they dropped their second consecutive decision. They were 0 for their first 7 shots four minutes into the first quarter, and had just two players (Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett) in double figures in scoring overall.
Rondo was one of the few bright spots in the loss, leading the team with 24 points, 7 assists, and 3 steals. He and coach Doc Rivers were each given technical fouls in the fourth quarter as tensions between the teams and the referees were increasing.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle was given a double technical and automatic ejection early in the second half of the game. Carlisle ran from the Mavericks bench area past the mid court line to argue a call with a referee, earning him the early trip to the locker room. At the time, the Mavericks had just surrendered their first-half lead to Boston, but quickly rallied around the ejection and reclaimed a solid lead until the late rally by the Celtics.
The close loss proved costly for the now below-.500 Celtics, as their upcoming schedule doesn’t get any easier. On Friday night they will welcome the Chicago Bulls to town, then they travel to Indiana and play on Saturday night as part of a back-to-back that will challenge the legs of the team that is showing signs of its age early this season.
On Monday night, they will then square off with Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder.