- Tim MacMahon, ESPNDallas.com
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With Rondo and Garnett unavailable, this was an easy win for the Mavericks over the Celtics, who have lost six of their last seven games.
The Mavs, whose 10-game streak of holding opponents to less than 100 points was snapped in Sunday’s loss to the New York Knicks, smothered the Celtics defensively for the first three quarters. Boston had 53 points and 14 turnovers entering the fourth quarter, which was essentially all garbage time.
What it means: The Mavs beat up Boston’s B team. It’s Dallas’ seventh win in eight games, but it’s difficult to give a win over the Celtics any grand meaning when Garnett and Rondo aren’t even in the building.
Play of the game: If there’s such a thing as a dagger early in the third quarter, Dirk’s uncontested 3-pointer from the right wing qualifies. Jason Kidd fired a cross-court out-of-bounds pass to Nowitzki, whom the Celtics somehow neglected to cover. Nowitzki took a dribble, measured the shot and knocked it down to give the Mavs an 18-point lead with a few minutes into the second half.
Stat of the night: Nowitzki and Paul Pierce, the man picked immediately after Dirk in the 1998 draft, were polar opposites in the plus-minus category. Nowitzki was plus-27, Pierce minus-27.
How it happened: The Dallas defense bounced back from a rare poor performance by shutting down a Boston team that is bad offensively even with Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett.