Nowitzki, Griffin Lift Mavs to Fifth Straight
Dallas 103, Boston 94
DALLAS, Dec. 10 (Ticker) -- As Dirk Nowitzki goes, so go the Dallas Mavericks. However, they have been getting an extra push from Adrian Griffin.
Nowitzki scored 24 points, including a clutch jumper down the stretch, and Griffin contributed a double-double as the Mavericks held on for their fifth straight win, a 103-94 victory over the Boston Celtics.
Devin Harris scored 19 points and Marquis Daniels added 15 for the Mavericks, who nearly blew a 16-point third-quarter lead but recovered with some timely defense in the last 4 1/2 minutes to beat the Celtics for the 10th time in the last 11 meetings.
"Our defense wasn't great in most of the second half," Nowitzki said. "We had to step it up to win the game. Defensively, we had some work to do."
An All-Star forward, Nowitzki was not particularly sharp, making just 7-of-20 shots. But he sank 10-of-10 free throws and came through when Dallas needed him most.
A follow shot by reserve Al Jefferson, who had a career-high 21 points and 12 rebounds while doing a commendable job on Nowitzki, capped an 11-4 surge that pulled Boston within 88-87 with 4:44 to play.
"We let them get back in it and it kind of slipped away," Nowitzki said. "Jefferson got a lot of points in the paint against us. It should have never gotten to that point. We had a nice lead. We were up like 16, 17 points and they cut it all the way to one."
Jason Terry split a pair of free throws and Nowitzki sank a pair before burying a fadeaway 18-footer for a 93-87 advantage with 3:13 left.
Griffin, who had 11 points and 10 boards, added a foul shot and Harris two more for a 96-87 bulge with 55 seconds to play. Paul Pierce answered with a 3-pointer, but Dallas made 6-of-6 from the line in the final 35 seconds to seal the win.
During the decisive stretch, Mavericks center DeSagana Diop had a pair of blocks on Raef LaFrentz and Dallas held Boston without a basket for over four minutes.
"I think we had three layups that were blocked," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "They play defense, they get stops. That goes to Avery (Mavericks coach Avery Johnson). I think he's made a complete difference in the team because they tried to outscore you in the past. In a game like this tonight, I think we win the game in the past."
A six-year veteran playing with his fourth team, Griffin was signed following the abrupt retirement of Doug Christie. He registered his second double-double in six games and has filled in admirably for injured swingmen Jerry Stackhouse and Josh Howard.
"I really like his addition on both ends of the floor," Nowitzki said. "He's making that little 16-, 17-footer when you give it to him. He's actually a good rebounder for his size. He really gets in there and and makes stuff happen."
"I just play hard, man, and I'm excited about the year," said Griffin, who spent his first two seasons with the Celtics. "Basketball is basketball. I just try to hustle and make some plays."
Griffin had a pair of buckets in a 12-1 burst that opened the third quarter and gave Dallas a 64-48 lead with 7:43 remaining. Boston rallied within 76-69 entering the final period.
Terry returned from a two-game absence due to a hamstring injury and scored 12 points for the Mavericks, who made 33-of-43 free throws. Harris was 13-of-17 from the line.
"They were executing," Pierce said. "Even when their shots weren't falling, they were able to get to the line better than we did tonight."
Pierce scored 28 points and Ricky Davis added 20 for the Celtics, who completed a 2-3 road trip with all three losses coming in Texas. They shot 53 percent (40-of-75) but attempted just 14 free throws, making eight.
"It was a good trip, "Davis said. "You could ask for better but it was a pretty good trip. We got back into the games. Now we just need to go forward and win them.