C's home struggles are defenseless

BOSTON -- The 1986 Bears? The Celtics' defense has looked more like that of the 2009 Patriots with the way Boston has wilted in the second half while dropping three straight at home.

The Celtics held a nine-point advantage coming out of halftime Monday night and led by as much as 12 in the third quarter before the wheels came off. Dallas scored 15 of the final 18 points of the quarter, which helped the Mavericks emerge with a 99-90 triumph at TD Garden.

After shooting 46.9 percent (15 of 32) in the first half, the Mavericks finished at 57.4 percent (39 of 68), blistering the field at 66.7 percent (24 of 36) after intermission.

That included a stretch spanning the third and fourth quarters in which the Mavs connected on 12 of 13 shots and outscored the Celtics 33-10 to open their largest lead, 93-75 with 6:56 to play.

"We've got to understand, we are a defensive team first," said Celtics captain Paul Pierce. "Regardless of who we put on the floor, at the end of the night, regardless of if we shoot the ball well or not, we are a defensive team. And that's what we have to continue to understand with the guys that are out there."

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