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Monday, January 18, 2010
First impressions: Mavericks 99, Celtics 90

By Chris Forsberg



BOSTON -- Instant reaction after the Dallas Mavericks posted a 99-90 triumph over the Boston Celtics Monday at the TD Garden:

How the game was won:Celtics coach Doc Rivers called Dirk Nowitzki a matchup nightmare before the game and he wasn't lying. Nowitzki scored a game-high 37 points on 14 of 22 shooting. Paul Pierce, playing despite tweaking his knee in Sunday's practice, scored a team-high 24 points, while Kendrick Perkins produced another double-double (14 points, 12 rebounds). Rajon Rondo, who averaged a triple-double vs. Dallas last season, finished with seven points and 12 assists, but a team-worst minus-17 in the plus/minus category.

Turning point: The Mavericks embarked on a 15-3 run to close the third quarter with Nowitzki scoring nine consecutive points for Dallas as it turned a five-point deficit into a 75-68 lead. The Mavericks outscored Boston, 34-18, while erasing a nine-point halftime deficit.

Stat of the game: Not only did the Mavericks make their final seven shots of the third quarter, but they made five of their first six in the fourth as their lead ballooned as high as 18 at 93-75.

What it means: The Celtics dropped their third consecutive home game and fell to a pedestrian 11-7 at the Garden. Despite getting Rasheed Wallace back from injury, it did little to help slow Nowitzki, who couldn't seem to miss late in the third quarter.