11/16 Game Preview: Mavericks at Celtics
BOSTON -- Isaiah Thomas tied his career high with 37 points for the Boston Celtics at New Orleans on Monday night.
In New York, Harrison Barnes registered his fourth straight 20-point game for the Dallas Mavericks.
The individual efforts, however, didn't lead to victories and the teams meet at TD Garden on Wednesday night.
"I think we're at a time where as a team each person has to look at individually what they can do," Barnes, who won a ring with the Golden State Warriors last season, said after the Mavs, again playing without Dirk Nowitzki, lost 93-77 to the Knicks.
Thomas, the Celtics' little giant, put on a one-man show in the fourth quarter in New Orleans, only to have the Pelicans emerge with just their second win in 11 games.
"I don't feel like we played as well as we should have," Avery Bradley said after his team fell to 5-5. "Even myself -- I don't feel like I came out and made shots in the second half and it hurt our team. It can't just be Isaiah; it has to be other guys that are out there making plays for each other and making shots."
Nowitzki has missed the last four games for the Mavs (2-7) with an Achilles injury, joining teammates Deron Williams and Devin Harris on the sideline. He went through an extensive working in New York pre-game but just wasn't ready. It didn't sound like Wednesday would be any different.
"The biggest issue is just the running. I'm not a big runner at this stage of my career, but I can't really go up and down yet," Nowitzki said Monday. "I haven't really done a full practice, so I'm just not quite there yet. But the good thing is it's getting better.
"Since sitting out last week, obviously, I'm doing more and more. We've increased the load, so I'm getting closer. But unfortunately, we just couldn't pull it off tonight."
Owner Mark Cuban told the Dallas Morning News: "You play the hand you're dealt. I think he's really close. He's feeling better. We just don't want to rush anything. There's no reason to. We'll wait until they're healthy."
While Dallas has been missing its aging star and two others, the Celtics have been without Al Horford (concussion, seven games) and former Mav Jae Crowder (ankle, six games). Both were close, but Crowder is out Wednesday and Horford is a possibility to return.
"We're trying to be as smart as we can about this," Horford said. "I just want to make sure that when I'm ready to go I'm good to go."
Thomas scored 37 Monday despite a sore middle finger on his left hand. He also had seven assists while going 13-for-29 from the floor.
"I just don't have the same feel I have when it's not swollen, so a lot of my layups and (shots) come off my hand wrong," he said. "I'm just trying to slowly figure it out and adjust. It's tough, but there's no excuses, so I'll figure it out."
Said coach Brad Stevens: "Isaiah's super tough. He always has nicks and bruises because of the way he plays, but he's a tough guy."
Thomas, who has had at least 20 points in all 10 Boston games, is eighth in the NBA with a 26.9 scoring average and is 10th with 6.6 assists. He is averaging the same number of rebounds and turnovers -- 2.8.
Barnes, who signed a $94 million contract with the Mavericks, was shaky in the preseason. But he has been coming on. He has raised his scoring average to 22.3 points per game, to go along with 5.9 rebounds.
The Mavericks swept the two-game season series with the Celtics for the third straight year in 2015-16 and bring a seven-game series winning streak into this game.