Inside Report: Mavericks-Celtics recap — J-Kidd to the rescue
Earl K. Sneed recaps the Mavericks' thrilling road win over the defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics capped by point guard Jason Kidd's late 3-pointer to extend the Dallas winning streak to seven.
BOSTON — Despite his team’s six-game winning streak heading into Friday’s nationally-televised matchup on the road against the defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle admitted that his team on paper could be at a disadvantage.
With forward Peja Stojakovic (left knee) and second-year guard Roddy Beaubois (left foot) not expected to return to the court from their injuries until next Monday at the earliest, the Mavericks (34-15) headed into the matchup against the talented Celtics with just 11 players in uniform.
And despite Thursday’s news that Dirk Nowitzki was named to his 10th straight All-Star team, Carlisle expressed to his players the importance of playing together in order to take down a Boston squad with four Eastern Conference All-Stars on its roster.
“They’ve got four All-Stars that were voted by the coaches. That’s really saying something,” Carlisle said before the game. “That’s only been done one or two other times. And so, those four guys are legitimate great individual players in their own right. So, all those guys can cause mayhem in a game and you’ve got four of them that play well together and play unselfishly … I think for us, the thing is we have got to play a great team game. We have to really help each other. We have to win the scramble game, and that’s where it’s at.”
Perhaps the coach was just playing possum, but his players took heed to the message.
With his “11 is greater than four” belief, Carlisle led his team into battle hoping to extend its winning streak while also trying to keep the Celtics (37-12) from avenging an 89-87 loss in Dallas on Nov. 8. And after buying into their coach’s pre-game talk, the Mavs used a come-from-behind effort capped by Jason Kidd’s game-clinching 3-pointer to leave the Celtics’ home floor with a 101-97 road win.
“It was just two good teams playing and you just hope that you can find a way to win on the road,” Kidd said after the win.
The game began with Carlisle revealing that he had a trick up his sleeve, inserting guard J.J. Barea into the starting lineup next to Kidd, swingman DeShawn Stevenson, Nowitzki and center Tyson Chandler. It would be Barea’s first start of the season, coming in the city where he played college basketball at Northeastern.
The strategy worked from the opening tip, as Barea led the Mavericks’ offensive attack in a fast-paced first quarter.
“That’s why he put me in there, to get us going early in the game,” Barea said after scoring nine points in the opening quarter.
With a pair of 3-pointers by Barea and Stevenson to go along with dominant inside play by Chandler, the Mavs opened up a lead as large as eight before taking a 34-27 edge into the second quarter.
The Mavericks continued to stay in front on the scoreboard early in the second stanza, but Boston’s bench players did their best to shoot the Celtics back into the game. Still, even after a sequence in which Chandler picked up an offensive foul followed by a technical foul for arguing with officials, the Mavs maintained their advantage thanks in large part to the scoring of reserves Jason Terry and Shawn Marion.
And after Chandler redeemed himself with a monster block from behind on a fast-breaking Ray Allen, Nowitzki took over the scoring. However, following Kendrick Perkins’ buzzer-beating hook shot, Boston was able to trim the Dallas lead to just 54-51 heading into the intermission.
Led by Barea’s 11 first-half points on 4-of-8 shooting, the Mavericks shot 56 percent through two quarters. Meanwhile, the Celtics fired back behind Kevin Garnett’s 12 points, hitting 58 percent of their shots. But it was the Mavericks’ 6-of-8 shooting from 3-point range that proved to be the difference at the midway point, as Boston hit just 2-of-5 from behind the arc at the other end of the court.
After the Celtics climbed to within one early in the third quarter, Nowitzki answered with a personal 7-0 run to extend the Dallas lead. Again the Mavericks were forced to respond after a scrum between Barea and Garnett resulted in a technical on the Celtics’ emotional leader, energizing the crowd.
“[Garnett] likes to pick on little guys, I think,” Barea joked. “It’s all fun, though, it’s part of the game … We got a free throw out of it at least.”
But behind a red-hot Allen, the Celtics grabbed a 67-66 edge, taking their first lead since going ahead 16-14 in the first quarter and overshadowing a Terry score to eclipse 15,000 points for his career.
Then, after falling behind by as much as six, Nowitzki led the Mavericks back, tying the game at 77-all heading to the fourth period after both No. 41 and Allen scored 14 points in the third.
With third-string center Ian Mahinmi providing toughness and hustle plays, Marion concentrated on the offensive end from the onset in the final period. But the two squads remained in a seesaw affair, locked in a stalemate.
Answering every mini-run by the Celtics, the Mavericks remained within an arm’s reach. But with the Mavericks attempting to take the lead, Allen returned the favor, sending back a Chandler dunk attempt after meeting the big man at the rim.
The Celtics used the great individual effort as momentum to take a six-point lead. But yet again Nowitzki attempted to will his team back, scoring a much-needed and-1 on a driving score over Garnett to trim the deficit to three.
“A lot of back and forth. I love the way our guys hung in and battled,” Carlisle said.
The Dallas disadvantage slid to just one after a pair of free throws from Terry with 56.6 ticks left. The two teams then exchanged defensive stops, with Nowitzki securing a rebound and calling timeout with just 15.3 seconds on the clock and everyone in the building, including the Celtics head coach, naturally assuming the ball was going one of two places: Into either Nowitzki’s or Terry’s hands.
“Doc Rivers looked at me, I looked at him and he kind of just shook his head and said, ‘It’s coming to you,’” Terry said. “And I was like, ‘You know it’s coming.’”
Out of the timeout, the ball went to Terry, who then found Nowitzki. But the 7-footer passed the ball out to Kidd, who was waiting patiently on the perimeter.
“The play was really for JET [Terry] off a triple down screen and just play off of that. And they really hedged strong off me, so he tried to give me the ball. But the pass was a little low, so it was a scramble from there. I’m kind of glad I got my hand back on it to control it and it just helped Kidd get open up top. I was about to throw something up at the basket, but I’m glad I kicked it out,” Nowitzki explained.
After a head fake forced Allen to run by, the legendary point guard swished in a three from the top of the key with just 2.5 seconds left to put his team up a deuce.
“I had thoughts when I showed the ball of maybe jumping into Ray, but he took a little wide angle, so I couldn’t get to him,” Kidd said of the play. “Dirk was nice enough and he trusted his teammates down the stretch to make a play. And I got lucky and it went in … I had one from JET that I missed earlier, and that was the one that I thought I just rushed it. So, I said, ‘If I have this opportunity, just take your time. You’re not a shooter, so they’re gonna give you the shot.’ Then Ray jumped out at me, and if he didn’t jump out at me, I was gonna shoot it anyway, because I just felt the next shot I was gonna take was gonna go in.”
“A 3-pointer off a pump fake is probably one of the toughest shots in basketball, but he made it look easy. He’s been making tough shots his whole career, so that was definitely a great shot,” Nowitzki added after watching his teammate connect in a clutch moment.
The Celtics then tried to answer, but Rajon Rondo’s alley-oop to Garnett sailed out of bounce, sending the ball back to the Mavs. Nowitzki the sunk a pair of shots at the foul line to ice the game with a 10-0 Dallas run, as the Mavs escaped TD Garden with comeback victory.
“Definitely a big win to me,” Nowitzki said. “The Celtics, if they’re healthy, they’re definitely one of the best teams in the league … We did get a little lucky in there, but that’s what you need to beat a good team every once in awhile.”
“The thing that I liked today is, unlike previous games, like Chicago and other games, we allowed teams to knock us out of our rhythm. We stuck to it, stuck to our game plan, executed and was able to get the win,” Chandler added.
The Mavericks now hold a 24-1 record this season in games they’ve scored at least 100 points.
For the second straight game, Nowitzki finished with a game-high 29 points, hitting on 9-of-14 from the floor. Off the bench Terry pitched in 17, while Chandler recorded his 12th double-double of the season with 14 points and 15 rebounds. Marion’s 13 points, Barea’s 11 and Kidd’s 10 made it six Mavericks in double figures.
“It wasn’t gonna take anything less than a very balanced game, an efficient game,” Carlisle said, echoing his pre-game thoughts.
And behind nine from Kidd, the Mavericks finished the game with 22 assists, one better than Boston’s 21 dimes led by Rondo’s 12 helpers.
“Offensively, we’re trusting each other,” Terry said. “The pass Dirk made at the end, it was all about trust. And when you trust your teammates like that, good things happen … Guys are making shots, and even when we miss shots, it’s all predicated on our assists and we’ve been doing an outstanding job.”
Allen led the Celtics with 24 points, as Boston finished outshooting the Mavericks, 51 percent to 49, to go along with a 34-33 rebounding edge.
And although both teams concluded matters with 15 total turnovers, the Celtics finished the night with a 23-12 margin in points scored off the giveaways, neutralizing the Mavericks’ 8-of-17 shooting night from behind the 3-point arc.
Riding the momentum of the big win and a seven-game unbeaten stretch, the Mavericks will now turn their attention to the Charlotte Bobcats, as the Dallas team concludes its three-game road trip with the second half of a back-to-back Saturday night. Back on Oct. 27, the Mavericks handed the Bobcats a season-opening 101-86 loss at the American Airlines Center.
They'll try to do it again, this time in the Bobcats' backyard.
“It’s starting to look like it did a month ago,” Carlisle said, noting the team’s eight wins in the last nine outings since suffering a season-worst six-game losing streak. “Now, we’ve got to sustain, and that’s gonna be the challenge for us.”
Note: The Mavericks conclude their road trip in Charlotte against the Bobcats, in a game that will tip off at 6 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest.
The team returns to Dallas to host the Cleveland Cavaliers next Monday night, Feb. 7, at the American Airlines Center. The Mavericks went into Quicken Loans Arena and handed the Cavs a 104-95 loss on their home floor back on Jan. 2. That matchup will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting the American Airlines Center box office, logging on to Mavs.com or by calling 214-747-MAVS (6287).
Stay connected with Dallas Mavericks inside reporter Earl K. Sneed by clicking "like" on his Facebook page or by following him on Twitter. Got a question for EKS? Send your question, along with your first name, last initial, city and state with the subject line "Ask EKS" to firstname.lastname@example.org, and you could be published on Mavsfastbreak.com, the Mavericks' new official blog site.
Create your own ticket plan with the Mavs Stretch Run Plan! Select from as few as six games or as many as 15, including great matchups against the Lakers, Spurs and many more! The plan also includes an option to purchase playoff tickets. Seats are limited so act fast! Visit mavs.com or call 214.747.MAVS to take advantage of this limited time offer!
Individual game tickets are on sale now. Tickets start as low as $2 and can be purchased at the American Airlines Center box office, on Mavs.com or by calling 214-747-MAVS (6287). Get in on the action and be there for all the thrills!
Fans can visit Mavs.com or call 214.747.MAVS for more information and a complete listing of regular-season home games.