Rapid Reaction: Mavs 89, Celtics 87

How it happened: The Dallas Mavericks avoided a third consecutive home loss with some inspired fourth-quarter defense that made up for an offense that sputtered until crunch time. Jason Terry and Dirk Nowitzki combined for all the Mavs’ points in a 15-7 run in the final 5:44.

Boston rallied from a 14-point deficit in the second quarter and 10 points at halftime to lead by six in the third quarter. They pulled ahead again late in the game, leading 87-82, with 1:58 left to go.

But, Nowitzki (25 points) made a driving layup and then Terry (17 points), who came off the bench for the first time this season, hit a game-tying 3-pointer from the right wing to tie. With 17.4 seconds left, Nowitzki faced-up Glen Davis and drained a long fadeaway for the lead.

Defense carried the day for the Mavs, though, limiting the Celtics to 41.8 percent shooting. Kevin Garnett (18 points) missed a tough shot to tie. Rajon Rondo, who had 15 assists and 11 points, hustled to get the rebound along the baseline, but Terry, realizing he had a foul to give, hacked Rondo with 1.5 seconds left.

After a 20-second timeout, Boston’s last-chance failed when Garnett hurried a shot from the corner over two defenders. It wasn’t even close and the Mavs celebrated another tough win on their home floor.

What it means: The Mavs desperately needed a home win to even their record at the AAC (2-2) after consecutive ugly losses in which they folded in the fourth quarter. In the two losses, Dallas combined for 28 points and 18 turnovers. This one started ominously and the Mavs scored just 19 points and needed to rally late, but their defense won it late, holding Boston to seven points in the final 5:44. The Mavs were 0-3 at home against Boston since the Big Three united.

Play of the game: With the game tied 87-87, Nowitzki got the ball for an isolation on the shorter Davis. Nowitzki faced him up, dipped his left shoulder, then faded back for his patented jumper that went down for an 89-87 lead with 17.4 seconds left. Of course, give Terry credit for the big 3-pointer that tied it at 87-87 with 1:13 to go.

Stat of the night: Center Tyson Chandler had a monster night, recording his first double-digit scoring night of the season (12 points), first double-digit rebounding night (13) and therefore his first double-double as a Maverick. He played a season-high 33 minutes and added two blocked shots and steal.