Ford Keys to the Game: Celtics 87, Mavericks 89

Ford Keys to the Game

Celtics 87, Mavericks 89

Game Highlights

Photo of the Game

Glen Davis, Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk Nowitzki hits the game-winning shot over Glen Davis with 17.4 seconds remaining in regulation.
Danny Bollinger/NBAE/Getty

Key Moment

It looked as if this section was going to be filled with positive vibes and talk of a defining comeback as the second half of tonight’s game unfolded, but in the end Boston is left with a sour taste in its collective mouth after Dirk Nowitzki single-handedly saved the day for the Dallas Mavericks.

The Celtics battled back from a sluggish first half that resulted in a 10-point halftime deficit and were able to turn the tables and take an 80-74 lead with 7:25 remaining in the fourth quarter. But when the C’s were unable to put the game away, thanks to a scoring dry spell that spanned the next 4:12 of the game, Dallas battled back and this one came down to the final possession.

Sadly for the C’s, on this night it was the Mavericks who would come through in the clutch, and they leaned on their unguardable big man to lead them to a victory.

Boston had an opportunity to take the lead with less than a minute remaining but Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett missed back-to-back shots that sandwiched a Rajon Rondo offensive rebound. Nowitzki grabbed the board off of KG’s miss, and everyone in the building knew that he would be the man to take the game’s next shot.

At the other end of the court, Dallas was able to maneuver itself in a way that resulted with Glen Davis defending Nowitzki instead of Garnett, and that move proved monumental. Dallas’ big man faced up on Davis, who was playing air-tight defense, and bumped him back with a slight shoulder to the chest. As Davis took a step and a half backward after absorbing the contact, Nowitzki had enough room to pull the trigger on his shot. Davis recovered and challenged it as best he could, but with a three-inch size disadvantage he just wasn’t able to affect the trajectory of the shot.

As is now painfully obvious, the jumper fell through the net with 17.4 seconds remaining on the clock. The Celtics went on to come up empty on two separate opportunities to score, one of which was a 3-pointer from Rondo with just more than three seconds remaining, but couldn’t get a bucket to fall. So Boston is left wondering two things at the end of the night. First, what would have happened if Garnett, who has considerably more length than Davis, was defending Nowitzki instead of Big Baby? Second, why didn’t the C’s get a better look to tie the game than a 3-pointer from Rondo on their final possession of the night?

Key Box Score Line

It’s a dangerous proposition to expect anything specific from Kevin Garnett nowadays, because you just don’t know how his body will react to the strenuous NBA schedule. Or do you?

In the second night of a back-to-back, there couldn’t have been many people not named Kevin Garnett who expected him to have a huge night. He did believe that he would, and he turned that thought into a reality.

Garnett dominated the glass to tie his season high in rebounds with 15. But it wasn’t just the glass where he was unstoppable. After scoring just four points in the first half, Garnett erupted for 14 in the second half while sinking shots from all over the court. Another positive sign is that the Big Ticket recorded a season-high in minutes, at 38, for a non-overtime game and didn’t seem to be missing a beat down the stretch.

He’s had some big games already this season, and this is just another one that will answer some questions as to where he’s at physically. As he continues to prove night-in and night-out, he’s definitely in a good, if not great, place.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Paul Pierce led Boston with 24 points and Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavs with 25.
  • Boston attempted only seven free throws in the game, all of which were made.
  • Only two of those assists came in the second half.
  • Rajon Rondo, the league's top assist man, dished out a game-high 15 assists. Jason Kidd, who entered tonight ranked second in APG, finished with 10 dimes.
  • Nowitzki was the only Dallas starter to finish with a positive plus/minus rating.
  • Kevin Garnett grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds and tied with Rondo for a game-high in offensive boards with four.
  • Jason Terry scored 17 points off the bench for Dallas.
  • The Celtics committed only 12 turnovers.
  • Despite playing without Shaquille O'Neal for the entire game and Jermaine O'Neal for all but 11 minutes, Boston outrebounded Dallas 42-38.
  • Rondo's final stat line consisted of 11 points, six rebounds, 15 assists and five steals.
  • Dallas' 17 made free throws were more than double the amount Boston attempted.
  • Tyson Chandler shot a perfect 5-of-5 from the field en route to his 12 points. He also grabbed a team-high 13 boards.
  • The Mavericks were whistled for two technical fouls.

Quote of the Night

Doc Rivers on the team's difference in play from the first half to the second: "I talked to them at halftime and said, ‘We’re making zero adjustments. We’re not going to make one adjustment. Even we’re going to be mentally ready to play the second half or we’re not.’ And we were. We came out and played terrific in the second half, got the lead, didn’t close it out though we had opportunities to close it out."