DALLAS — The Dallas Mavericks didn’t expect this much trouble in opening a long homestand with a 94-89 victory Monday night over the lottery-bound Boston Celtics.
All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki scored a 19 for Dallas, which improved to 41-27 after the first of eight straight games at American Airlines Center. The Mavericks matched their victory total of last season, the first non-playoff campaign for the franchise since 1999-2000.
Dallas is charging towards a postseason return by going a season-high 14 games over .500 after its fifth win in the last six games. The Mavericks are seventh in the Western Conference and just one game back of sixth-place Golden State.
The Celtics (22-46) have dropped five in row, and finished the season 0-15 against the West on the road. Boston has lost seven of its last eight against Dallas.
The Celtics do go away easy in this visit. Despite falling behind by double digits several times in the second half, Boston constantly fought back.
Celtics guard Jerryd Bayless’ 3-pointer from the corner cut Dallas’ lead to two (85-83) with 1:45 remaining. Nowitzki answered with a 3-pointer to get the advantage up to five.
That didn’t last long. After Boston backup center Kelly Olynyk scored on an offensive rebound, guard Avery Bradley (11 points) made it 90-89 after stealing the ball from Dallas guard Monta Ellis and slamming it with 21.6 seconds remaining.
After two free throws by Ellis, Bayless missed twice in the lane, with the second shot blocked by Dallas guard Vince Carter. The Mavericks iced the win at the line.
Ellis finished with 17 points, and forward Shawn Marion scored 11 to go along with six rebounds. Dallas reserve guard Devin Harris did most of his damage in the fourth quarter, finishing with 12 points and six assists. Forward Brandan Wright went 5-5 to score 10 in 17 minutes off the bench.
Bayless scored 19, including nine consecutive points during Boston’s fourth-quarter push. Olynyk had 16 points and nine rebounds, and fellow reserve center Jered Sullinger scored 13 and grabbed nine boards.
The Mavericks avoided an All-Star-caliber point guard for the second consecutive night. Oklahoma City rested Russell Westbrook on Sunday and the Celtics followed by putting Rajon Rondo on the shelf.
The Mavericks went into halftime up 50-43 after a 17-6 run to finish out the second quarter. Boston had reeled off 13 consecutive points before Dallas’ spurt.
Nowitzki had 10 points, with Carter adding nine off the bench. Sullinger led all scorers at the break with 11 points.
Dallas appeared on the verge of blowing the game open by taking a 15-point lead (64-49) in the third period. The Celtics, however, ended the quarter with a 12-0 run to trail just 64-61 going into the final 12 minutes.
NOTES: The Mavericks started a franchise-record eight-game homestand Monday. They won’t play on the road for the rest of this month. The next away game for Dallas is April 3 at the Los Angeles Clippers. “There’s opportunity here,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said of the home stretch, “but it’s going to be very challenging, too.” … Boston entered the game 0-14 on the road against the West. “The West is clearly better than the East,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “I don’t think anybody would argue that, but at the same time we’ve had our chances in a couple of those games.” … Dallas G Monta Ellis played Sunday despite dealing with an illness, and he was back in the starting lineup Monday.
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