The Dallas Mavericks came to Boston knowing they wouldn't have to face Kevin Garnett. And when Rasheed Wallace went to the bench with foul trouble, Dirk Nowitzki took advantage.
Nowitzki scored 37 points on Monday night to lead Dallas to a 99-90 victory over the Boston Celtics, scoring nine in a row during a third-quarter run that gave the Mavericks the lead for good. Nowitzki scored 15 of 19 Dallas points after Wallace committed his fourth foul and went to the bench with 3:56 left in the third quarter.
"That's when the floodgates opened," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who tried both Glen "Big Baby" Davis and Brian Scalabrine, with little success. "The fourth foul really hurt us. I thought Rasheed was doing a terrific job on Dirk. Not having Kevin tonight, knowing Rasheed was the only other guy, that put us in a tough situation."
Jason Kidd scored 13 points and added 17 assists for the Mavericks, who had lost three of their previous four games, including a 22-point loss at Toronto on Sunday.
"Some say we were in Toronto. Others say we came straight to Boston," Kidd said with a smile. "It was a horrible showing. To be able to come right back out was nice."
Paul Pierce scored 24 points, Ray Allen scored 21, Kendrick Perkins had 14 points and 12 rebounds and Rajon Rondo had 12 assists for Boston, which has lost three straight at home. The Celtics have lost four of their last six overall, and they are 4-7 since beating the defending Eastern Conference champion Magic in Orlando on Christmas Day.
The Celtics were again without Garnett, who has missed the past nine games with a hyperextended right knee. But they got Wallace back after he missed three games with a sore left foot. Pierce, who banged knees with Shelden Williams in practice, started and played 35 minutes.
"We've been there before. We've won games without Kevin," Pierce said. "That's not an excuse. We feel like we should win in our building."
The Celtics led by 11 in the first half and had a 65-60 lead with 4:48 left in the third. But Erick Dampier drove for a basket and Nowitzki hit a jumper from the left side to give the Mavs a 69-68 lead and then a jumper from the top of the key for his ninth consecutive point.
The Mavericks shot 80 percent from the floor in the third quarter, with many of the baskets coming in transition like the ones Shawn Marion scored on back-to-back fast breaks to complete the 15-3 run and make it 75-68.
"When you're pushing the ball up the floor, it opens up everything and makes it easier," Marion said. "Dirk was great. Dirk was sharing the ball very well tonight. What can you say? Thirty-seven points. He had a heck of a game."
It was 79-75 when the Mavs scored 14 straight points, including back-to-back 3-pointers from Kidd and Jason Terry. The Celtics cut it to 13 points, 93-80, before Eddie House missed a long 2-pointer and, after Boston got the offensive rebound, missed another.
This program aired on January 19, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.