The Boston Celtics nearly overcame a 31-point deficit, rallying within a point in the final minute, but the Dallas Mavericks were able to hang on for a 118-113 triumph on Monday night at the American Airlines Center.
Box score | Play by Play | Shot Chart
• Tale of two halves (Half 1): The Mavericks shot a sizzling 63.4 percent in the first half, including an impossible 71.4 percent (10-of-14) beyond the 3-point arc. Fueled by a perfect Dirk Nowitzki (5-of-5, 16 points before the intermission), the Mavs led by as much as 31 and were up 67-41 at the break. Celtics coach Brad Stevens lamented his team's lack of defense over the first 24 minutes, but that was about to change.
• Tale of two halves (Half 2): The Celtics emerged reinvigorated in the second half, chipping away at their deficit sparked by their defense -- especially that of rookie Marcus Smart -- and actually had a chance to tie with 39 seconds remaining when Avery Bradley was fouled beyond the 3-point arc. Bradley missed the middle of three shots, helping the Mavericks fend off Boston's charge.
• Easy being Green: Jeff Green shouldered Boston's limited offense early on and finished with a game-high 35 points on 14-of-28 shooting to go along with 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 assists and a steal over 38:36. Bradley helped fuel Boston's 72-point second half by scoring 23 of his career-high 32 points after the break.
• Rondo Report: Rajon Rondo again flirted with a triple-double while posting 7points, 15 assists and 9 rebounds. He helped turn the game defensively in the second half as part of Boston's three-guard lineup, but he struggled with his own offense, missing 8 of 11 shots and turning the ball over five times.
• What it means: The Celtics (1-2) went winless on their brief two-game trip to Texas, but the team showed a lot more heart in responding to adversity in Monday's game than it did on Saturday in Houston. Boston gets a day off Tuesday before hosting the defending Atlantic Division champion Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night at TD Garden.