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The Celtics nearly overcame a 10-point halftime deficit but fell just short to the Dallas Mavericks 89-87 Monday night at the American Airlines Center. The game was the second in two nights on the road for the C’s, a situation they haven’t fared well in this season. The Celtics now sit at 0-2 in the second night of back-to-back games.
Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 25 points, most importantly the go-ahead jumper with under 20 seconds left in the game. The Mavericks snapped Boston’s five-game winning streak with the win.
The Celtics had many scoring opportunities in the first half, but their shots just weren’t falling. Boston shot 41% on the night, but was held south of 40 for most of the game. Paul Pierce lead the C’s with 24 points, Kevin Garnett had 18 points and 15 rebounds, and Rajon Rondo had 11 points and 15 assists for the Celtics. The loss also snaps Boston’s three game winning streak in Dallas. The Celtics also hadn’t lost in Texas in their last two road trips through the feared triangle.
Jason Terry added 17 points for the Mavs, and Tyson Chandler had 12 points and 13 rebounds for Dallas including a rousing tip-in dunk to ignite the crowd in the second quarter. Trailing the play at high speed, Chandler rattled the rim with the tip-and-follow, his momentum swinging him like a wrecking ball. As the Dallas crowd erupted, it seemed the Celtics may have been done there and then.
But they weren’t. The Celtics tore off an 18-6 run punctuated by a Pierce 3-pointer for a 67-63 lead with 1:57 left in the third quarter. Dallas finished the third with a 7-2 run for a 70-69 edge heading into the fourth.
After a tentative start to the final quarter, the Celtics got cooking. A quick 7-0 run gave the Celtics an 80-74 lead with 7:24 to go. The Celtics big guns allowed them to hold an 87-82 lead with 1:58 left after a Pierce jumper. But Nowitzki quickly drove and scored and Terry converted a three with 1:13 remaining to tie the game at 87. Garnett missed an close-range shot with under a minute left, and Nowitzki connected from 16 feet on the left wing with 17.4 to play to give Dallas the lead and the game.