Balanced attack helps Mavs down struggling Celtics
Dallas, TX – Brandan Wright had a season-high 23 points and Dirk Nowitzki added 22, with the duo leading the Dallas Mavericks to a 104-94 victory over the slumping Boston Celtics at American Airlines Center.
Wright finished 11-of-16 from the field and grabbed eight rebounds for Dallas, which also got a boost from Vince Carter's 19 points off the bench and Shawn Marion's return to the lineup to prevail for the seventh time in their last 10 outings.
Out since March 4 due to a strained left calf, Marion put up 11 points and a game-high 13 rebounds to help send the Celtics to a third straight loss and fifth defeat in seven contests.
"It's a huge win for us because we've got to win as many as we possibly can. Boston's a team that's been playing well," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "We've got to validate this by coming out on Sunday and doing it again, playing this kind of game again."
Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass each posted double-doubles in the setback, with Garnett compiling 16 points and 12 rebounds and Bass pulling down 11 boards along with 16 points. Paul Pierce also ended with 16 points for Boston, which fell a half-game behind Chicago for sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
The Mavericks began the game on a 9-2 run and never trailed at any stage, though Boston fought back to forge a 17-17 tie on an Avery Bradley jumper with 4:45 left in the first quarter.
Dallas then answered with a 13-2 surge, getting five points out of Carter and a beyond-the-arc bucket from O.J. Mayo that made the score 30-19 in the Mavs' favor nearing the end of the opening period.
The Celtics made some headway during the second quarter, closing within 47-43 entering the final two minutes of the half, but an 8-1 spurt capped by Carter's 3-point play just before the buzzer sent Dallas into the locker room owning a 55-44 advantage.
Dallas maintained a double-digit margin throughout the majority of the third quarter, with the differential getting as high as 14 points, and entered the fourth comfortably in front at 79-68. Marion tallied seven points during the session.
Boston was able to cut its deficit down to five late, putting together a 6-1 burst culminating with Jeff Green's running layup that created a 97-92 score with 1:51 left. Mayo drained a back-breaking 3-pointer 30 seconds later, however, to help thwart any comeback hopes.
"Defensively right now, we're not getting it done," Celtics guard Jason Terry said. "Give them credit, they spread us out. They used (Wright) to roll to the basket tonight and he played well."
The game marked the return to Dallas for Terry, a member of the Mavs for eight seasons prior to signing with the Celtics as a free agent in July. He managed just eight points on 3-of-9 shooting.
Wright's previous season best for points was 16, set at Phoenix on Dec. 6 ... Nowitzki has averaged 26.7 points in 27 career games against Boston ... The Mavericks have won five of the last six matchups in the series, with the Celtics' lone victory over that span coming in double overtime in Boston back in December.