Rapid Reaction: Mavericks 94, Celtics 89

DALLAS -- The Dallas Mavericks fought off the feisty, undermanned Boston Celtics squad for a 94-89 win.

How it happened: The Mavs scratched out a win over a bad Boston team despite a sluggish performance.

The Mavs couldn’t shake the Celtics, who had runs of 13-0 and 12-0 in the second and third quarters, respectively, then rode guard Jerryd Bayless in the fourth quarter. Bayless scored 12 of his team-high 19 points in the final frame, repeatedly responding to potential Dallas daggers by scoring on the other end.

The Celtics, who trailed by 12 points midway through the fourth quarter, almost spoiled the start of the Mavs’ eight-game homestand by pulling off a comeback. Boston cut the deficit down to one with 21.6 seconds remaining, after Avery Bradley stripped Monta Ellis at half court and threw down a breakaway dunk.

But Boston couldn’t get over the hump.

Ellis (17 points, seven rebounds, four assists) hit a pair of clutch free throws with 19.8 seconds remaining. Bayless came up empty on a drive the ensuing possession, when Vince Carter swatted his putback attempt. Shawn Marion sealed the win with a pair of free throws.

Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavs with 19 points, but he was only 6-of-17 from the floor. That epitomized a poor shooting night for Dallas (42.3 percent from the floor).

What it means: With their fifth win in six games, the Mavs improved to 41-27, matching last season’s win total. Dallas, which is a season-best 14 games above .500, is one game behind sixth-place Golden State and one game ahead of eighth-place Memphis in the Western Conference standings. The Celtics fell to 22-46 with their fifth straight loss.

Play of the game: Carter drove down the lane, drew two defenders and dished to Brandan Wright for a two-hand dunk with 9:43 remaining. That bucket ended the Mavs’ drought of 6:36 without a field goal and stretched Dallas’ lead to seven points.

Stat of the night: The Celtics failed to win a road game against a Western Conference team this season. Boston is 0-15 on the road against the West after their loss to the Mavs.